New Publication: Philippine Ancestral Gold by John N Miksic, Florina H. Capistrano- Baker and John Guy (eds.)


Miksic, John, Florina H. Capistrano- Baker and John Guy (eds.), Philippine Ancestral Gold, Singapore: NUS Press, 2012

Philippine Ancestral Gold is a spectacular publication   in full-color that features more than 1,000 gold objects that were recovered in   the Philippines from the 1960s to 1981 and now form part of the collection of   the Ayala Museum in Manila. Many of these treasures were found in association   with tenth-to-twelfth century Chinese export ceramics, and formal similarities   with objects from other Southeast Asian cultures affirm regional affinities and   inter-island trade networks that flourished in the region before there was   regular contact with the Western world. Adornments of elite individuals and the   deities they adored include a spectacular array of golden sashes, necklaces,   pectorals, diadems, earrings, finger rings, and arm and leg ornaments.

The book situates these objects within the context of early   Southeast Asian history. In the first chapter, Floriana H. Capistrano-Baker   outlines the history of the collection and presents an overview of the objects   according to over-lapping categories of form, function, technology, and   geographic provenance. In the second chapter, John Miksic explains how the   collection contributes to a reassessment of the prehistory of Southeast Asia.   Miksic notes the persistence of indigenous forms and the localization of   imported traditions, and discusses the correlation between burial practices and   social organization and suggests that the removal of gold objects from   circulation through ritual burial is an indicator of non-hereditary leadership.   Chapter 3, John Guy examines the meaning and metamorphosis of forms in   comparison with related material recovered in the region. Guy highlights   stylistic similarities and differences between the Philippine objects and those   from such cultures as Java, Champa, and Borneo. He discusses as well the   important role of export ceramics in dating associated gold finds. Chapter 4   describes related finds from the Butuan-Surigao-Agusan region in light of the   rise and fall of different polities in Southeast Asia.

This extraordinary collection exists because of the passion and   dedication of Leandro and Cecilia Locsin, whose vision of preserving for future   generations these marvelous objects provides valuable glimpses into the   Philippine precolonial past, and is a remarkable homage to the Filipino people.