find inside Pinol Cave
the paper presented at the 14th national
Conference on local and National History in 1993 by
Eusebio Z. Dizon, PhD, Museum Curator I, Archeology
Division, National Museum).
Our Southeast Asian
neighbors have nothing of this type of archaeological
find. We should be extremely proud as Filipinos in
discovering the amazing anthropomorphic potteries, which
could suggest the backbone of our own culture. Never
before have we seen such a magnificent archaeological
opportunity to conduct extensive archaeological research,
we can reconstruct them properly. We will attempt to
interpret their social structure, political organization,
economic system, religious beliefs and symbolisms.
There may be four
kinds of cover or lid, namely: anthropomorphic motif or
head; trunconical with simple appliqué design; simple
ovaloid with four ear handles; and trunconical with
adze-shaped and round spinning shaped motif.
Among the covers,
the heads were in various facial expressions. Traces of
smile, joy, and contentment were in some faces. Others
looked very sad and seemed to have been crying. Still
others have their teeth well-fallen. All kinds of facial
expressions have been encapsulated in these collections.
These were the products of their own local artists and
potters from hundreds of generations.
the foreword of Dr. Gabriel S. Casal, director, National
Museum, from the book FACES FROM MAITUM by Eusebio Z.
Dizon and Rey A. Santiago)
pottery… is an exceptional archaeological assemblage.
According to Dr. Eusebio Dizon, who headed the team, this
archaeological find is unparalleled in Southeast Asia.
Consultations with his colleagues at two international
conferences in Thailand and Indonesia in 1991 and 1992
elicited much excitement and interest from archaeologists
from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma
and Indonesia… This earthenware pottery is remarkably
unique and intriguing.
Who were these
people? When, and how did they live?
FACES FROM MAITUM, The Archaeological Excavation of Ayub
Cave, by Eusebio Z. Dizon and Rey A. Santiago)
The discovery in
1991 of anthropomorphic burial jars in a cave site in
Maitum, province of Sarangani-formerly South Cotabato-
caused great excitement. For one, no similar
anthropomorphic types have emerged in any Philippine
archaeological sites. In terms of designs, this pottery
assemblage approximates the Kalanay site in Masbate,
central Visayas, and the Tabon Caves of Palawan in western
Philippines. Anthropomorphic pottery has been found in
Bacong, Negros in western Visayas and in Huyop-hoyopan,
Albay, in southeastern Luzon. There is also the famous
Manunggul “Ship of the Dead” of Palawan, portraying a
soul being ferried to the afterlife. The burial jars of
Kulaman Plateau in southern Mindanao, including those
carved out of limestone, also enlarge our picture gallery
from the past because of their anthropomorphic motifs.
Sketchy faces made up of eyes, nose and mouth appear in
many pots excavated in 14th century sites in Calatagan,
But the faces
depicted in the pottery of Maitum are unique. They are
like portraits of distinct individuals- of specific dead
persons whose remains they guard. Some faces are thin with
pointed chins and shriveled puckered mouths associated
with the toothless or the aged. Other heads wear a smile
displaying a full set of teeth. A patch of black paint on
the head indicates where hair should be. Others with
perforations suggest a more realistic portrayal. Had hemp
fiber filled those holes to represent tuffs of hair? Who
were these people? When, and how did they live?
… the risks taken
hardships endured by the archaeological team are amply
compensated by its results: Two conventional radiocarbon
dates of 1830+- 60 B.P. [calibrated date of A.D. 70 to
370]; and 1920+-50 B.P [calibrated date of 5 B.C to
A.D. 225] were obtained from soot samples scraped from
inner and outer wall of a small earthenware vessel found
inside Jar 21, one of the burial jars found in situ.
from FACES FROM MAITUM, The Archaeological Excavation of
Ayub Cave, by Eusebio Z. Dizon and Rey A. Santiago)
The artifacts are
on exhibit, entitled “Faces of Maitum: An Exhibition
of Anthropomorphic Pottery,” at the National Museum.
The Provincial Government of Sarangani and the
Municipality of Maitum are working out their retrieval and
exhibit in a local museum here.
[Reproduced by the
Maitum Information Office and Municipal Tourism Council,
Municipality of Maitum]