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Chapter 7 The Long-Distance Porcelain Trade Sometime at the end of the first millennium a.d., and intensifying just before Spanish contact, Philippine chiefdoms became involved in longdistance prestige goods trade with the Chinese and with other Southeast Asian polities. Chinese porcelain and other exotic luxury goods from outside the archipelago, while not replacing indigenously manufactured prestige goods, became key symbols of social status and political power for the Philippine chiefly elite. As discussed in earlier chapters, this trade is evidenced ethnohistorically and archaeologically in the increasing use of foreign imports in elite bodily ornamentation, as “wealth” objects in the households of hereditary elite, and as grave accompaniments in high-status burials. Both ethnohistorical sources and archaeological evidence suggest that this foreign luxury good trade reached its height in terms of volume and interpolity trade competition in the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries. The increasing emphasis on foreign luxury goods in Philippine political economies corresponded with the emergence of more organizationally complex and territorially expansive chiefdoms and kingdoms in a number of regions of the Philippines in the two centuries before Spanish contact. If control of wealth-generating foreign trade was a significant factor in these sociopolitical developments, how did Philippine chiefs regulate social access to foreign trade goods so that they retained their value as restricted status objects and manipulable political currency? If the giving of foreign luxury goods as gifts was an important material means of expanding a sovereign’s network of alliances and client relations, then it is necessary to focus on the strategies used by Philippine rulers to monopolize foreign trade and keep foreign goods from circulating in the alliance networks of their political rivals. Later chapters will specifically explore how the expanding importance of maritime luxury good trade in indigenous political economies was supported through changes in internal systems of resource mobilization , production, and distribution (Chapters 8 and 9) and changes in the objectives and intensity of militaristic activities (Chapter 12). This chapter will focus more narrowly on chiefly strategies and activities that channeled foreign trade exclusively into the hands of the sociopolitical elite and offered avenues for wealth accumulation as the basis for political power. These strategies include restrictive social contexts for exchange (the ruler as patron to the foreign trader), restrictive geographic contexts for exchange (the trade 184 Foreign Trade and Internal Transformation “entrepôt,” elite sponsorship of trade voyages), aggressive recruitment of trade partners (tributary missions to the Chinese court), and ideological manipulation of foreign knowledge obtained in the course of trade interactions (the ruling elite as the translators of foreign culture). Patterns of Foreign Trade in the Seventh to Sixteenth Centuries a.d.: Documentary and Archaeological Evidence Since the trade strategies of Philippine rulers and their foreign trade partners were dynamic and responded to larger economic and political processes within the Southeast Asian maritime trading sphere, I begin this chapter with an overview of maritime trade patterns in Southeast Asia over the last two millennia and how Philippine peoples participated in these longdistance trade networks. Chinese trade and tributary records of the tenth to sixteenth centuries, contact period Spanish documents, and archaeological evidence in the form of trade goods and trading settlements provide the sources for examining changes in the organization, volume, intensity, political and social context, and material emphasis of foreign trade from the seventh through sixteenth centuries a.d. Ethnohistorical and archaeological analysis point to a massive expansion of foreign luxury good trade in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, accompanied by changes in trade inventories , the political and economic objectives of trade, and the way in which foreign trade was organized and administered. Pre-Tenth-Century Trade A common view among historians before the 1970s was that the MalayoPolynesian speakers of Southeast Asia participated in a very limited way in the South China Sea–Indian Ocean luxury good trade well up to the sixteenth century, with Chinese, Indian, and Arab vessels responsible for most long-distance shipping in the region (Coedes 1968; Meilink-Roelofsz 1962; Van Leur 1967; Wheatley 1971). However, other Southeast Asian historians have recently critiqued the previous emphasis on external forces driving the late first millennium a.d. Southeast Asian trade (K. Hall 1985:42– 44, 78–79, 98–99; Manguin 1993:200; see also Wolters 1967). Recent historical reconstructions have begun to demonstrate the technological and navigational sophistication of Malay coastal populations (Manguin 1980, 1993; Reid 1993c:43–53). In fact, historical interpretations now suggest that Malay peoples of Southeast Asia, rather than Chinese, South...


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