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Chapter 1 Foreign Trade and Sociopolitical Evolution Ethnohistorical sources indicate that at the time of European contact, the coastlines and lowland river valleys of most of the major islands of the Philippines were inhabited by politically complex, socially stratified societies, organized on the level of what cultural evolutionists refer to as “chiefdoms.” Philippine chiefs were central figures in complex regional-scale political economies . Hereditary chiefs controlled the agricultural productivity of lowerranked farmers through restrictive land tenure and debt-bondage, they mobilized surplus for elite use through formalized tribute systems, and they amassed wealth through sponsorship of luxury good craftsmen and through interisland trading and raiding activities. The accumulated material fund of power was used competitively by chiefs in ritual feasting, bridewealth payments , and other display or exchange contexts to enhance their social ranking , to strengthen political alliances, and to expand their regional political authority. As early as the Chinese Sung period (a.d. 950–1279) and possibly before, Chinese trade records and archaeological finds of foreign porcelains at Philippine sites document the beginnings of long-distance trade in “prestige goods” with China and numerous established Southeast Asian maritimetrading polities. The Philippine archipelago became the easternmost edge of a vast network of Chinese, Southeast Asian, Indian, and Arab traders that circulated porcelains, silks, glass beads, and other luxury goods throughout the South China Sea and through the Malacca Straits into the Indian Ocean as early as the beginning of the first millennium a.d. Chinese porcelain and other foreign luxury goods procured through maritime trade became key symbols of social prestige and political power for the Philippine chiefly elite. Ethnohistorical sources suggest that foreign prestige goods also became the most significant source of politically manipulable wealth in these societies , as an essential component of bridewealth payments, elite gift exchange at competitive feasting events, and other exchange contexts critical to political integration. The advent and growth of this extra-archipelago luxury good trade is archaeologically attested in large quantities of Sung, Yüan, and Ming period porcelains recovered from early second millennium a.d. burial and habitation sites on many of the major islands of the Philippines. Both ethnohistorical sources and archaeological evidence suggest that this foreign luxury good trade reached its height in terms of volume and inter- 4 Introduction polity trade competition in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Intensified foreign trade appears to correspond chronologically with the emergence of more organizationally complex and territorially expansive chiefdoms in some regions of the Philippines, particularly those polities that were favorably situated for control of this wealth-generating trade. Archaeologists have tended to view the emergence of sociopolitical complexity in the Philippines as late-occurring, rapid, and processually linked to the expanded wealth and ideologies of rulership accrued through trade contacts with more complexly organized Asian kingdoms and empires (e.g., Beyer 1948; Beyer and de Veyra 1947; R. Fox 1967; Fox and Legaspi 1977; Hutterer 1973b, 1974; but see Hutterer 1977a; Jocano 1975b; Solheim 1964; Tenazas 1977). This view mirrors the emphasis of some early Southeast Asian historians on migration or diffusionist causality in Southeast Asian state formation (e.g., Coedes 1968, 1972; Heine-Geldern 1923, 1932; Wheatley 1973, 1975). In this view, trade contacts with India and China beginning in the early first millennium a.d. not only provided politically manipulable exotics, but also set in motion processes of “indianization” and “sinocization” that shaped the political structure and ideologies of Southeast Asian polities starting with Funan, Champa, Dvaravati, and Srivijaya and continuing with such early second millennium kingdoms as Pagan, Angkor, Sukhothai, and Majapahit. By focusing wholly on these external influences as catalysts in Philippine complex society development, archaeological and ethnohistorical analyses have often been restricted to documenting Philippine trade patterns in the centuries after a.d. 1000 and the sociopolitical matrix in which they operated in terms of Chinese initiatives and trade objectives. There has been little attention to archaeological and ethnohistorical study of indigenous sociopolitical developments over the last two millennia that both created a demand for foreign prestige goods and provided the necessary organizational matrix for administering and controlling large-scale foreign luxury good trade (Hutterer 1977a). A number of archaeological and historical studies of foreign prestige goods trade in complex societies (e.g., Flannery 1968; Flannery and Marcus 1994; Frankenstein and Rowlands 1978; Kipp and Schortman 1989; Marcus and Flannery 1996; Renfrew 1982) have shown that such exchange systems generally emerge in the context of already developed sociopolitical complexity in which foreign sumptuary goods are incorporated into...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780824864064
Related ISBN
9780824820350
MARC Record
OCLC
45843033
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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