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The Spouted Earthenware Effigy Jar from Pagayona Cave in Palawan Philippines [Amazing Archeology]

The spouted earthenware effigy jar from Pagayona Cave in Palawan

This article features the Palayok Gallery and a representative artifact, the spouted earthenware effigy jar from Pagayona Cave in Palawan.

Opened to the public in December 2019, “Palayok: The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines” is one of the new exhibitions recently launched by the National Museum of the Philippines before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The exhibition highlights ceramic artifacts—earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain—from the National Archaeological Collection, acquired through various archaeological activities in the country. 

Palayok: The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines

Arranged chronologically, the gallery presents the following sections: 1) an introduction to ceramics in Philippine archaeological and cultural context;  2) the emergence of pottery in the archipelago around 4,200 years ago through the arrival of ancestral maritime communities; 3) their internal and external development and interactions, resulting to the increased prominence and role of material culture, particularly pottery; 4) the intensification of trade relations beyond Southeast Asia and the introduction of foreign ceramics into the archipelago, re-shaping the concept of prestige; and, 5) the tradition of ceramic production of living communities in the contemporary period.

The Palayok gallery showcases many distinct artifacts, one of which is the spouted earthenware effigy jar excavated in Pagayona Cave, in the Tabon Cave Complex, Lipuun Point, Municipality of Quezon, Palawan (read more: 

Pagayona Cave

The Pagayona Cave was discovered in April 1964, nearly two years after the Tabon excavations were begun, and named in honor of the late Mr. Vicente Pagayona Sr., the modern pioneer of Quezon, Palawan. The cave is a single round chamber that is 12.5 m in length and 8.5 m at its greatest width. 

The spouted earthenware effigy jar from Pagayona Cave in Palawan

The spouted earthenware effigy jar was discovered together with other jars and vessels on the cave floor, as well as shell artifacts, clay ear-pendant, iron objects, fragments of bronze implements other metal objects, and carnelian and glass beads. Alongside these artifacts were scattered human skeletal remains, indicating that the cave was used as a burial ground.

Based on its archaeological context, the effigy jar had a utilitarian purpose, and possibly served as a burial item or a funeral offering. The vessel has a tall neck and a spout in the form of an animal (zoomorphic), with impressed decorative patterns on its spout. 

The jar burial assemblage of Pagayona Cave, including the spouted earthenware effigy jar, is estimated to be from 200 Before Common Era (BCE) to 200 Common Era (CE).

While the National Museum of the Philippines is still closed to the public, explore our collections and exhibitions by visiting our upgraded website at There is also a 360 virtual tour of the Palayok exhibition which you can view by clicking on this link:



Text by Gregg Alfonso Abbang and Giovanni Bautista, and posters by Timothy James Vitales | NMP Archaeology Division

© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

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