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Chapter 9 The Evolution of Craft Specialization Anthropological studies of the economy of chiefdoms have documented the presence of distinctive types of production modes and exchange relations not present in simpler societies. Greater sociopolitical complexity is typically accompanied by the appearance of socially restricted goods that function to reinforce social inequality and to symbolize asymmetrical political relationships. Because these goods circulate through ritualized exchanges as a form of “political currency,” chiefs and other hereditary elites generally control their specialized production and distribution (Brumfiel and Earle 1987; Clark and Parry 1990; Peregrine 1991). Economic efficiencies of scale may also come into play once societies become regionally integrated rather than locally autonomous, with centralization of production developing even in the realm of basic subsistence and household goods. In this chapter, I examine the development of craft specialization in Philippine chiefdoms with historical and archaeological evidence. Early Spanish accounts and more recent ethnographic work on traditional craft production systems document the presence of luxury good specialists producing fancy cotton textiles, gold ornaments, metal weaponry, elaborate earthenware , and other goods under the sponsorship of chiefs and primarily for elite consumption in sixteenth-century and later chiefdoms. Only earthenware pottery and iron goods are found in sufficient quantities in the archaeological record to trace the long-term development of luxury good specialization . Archaeological evidence indicates that, by the late first millennium b.c. to the mid–first millennium a.d., elaborate earthenware and metal objects with highly standardized forms, raw materials, and decoration were being produced for mortuary rites and possibly household status display. Although no early pottery or metal workshops have been located, the archaeological contexts of pottery at least suggest manufacture in a limited number of locales by highly skilled potters, possibly involving some form of chiefly sponsored specialization. The intensifying focus on foreign luxury good imports in the early to mid–second millennium a.d. does not supplant indigenous status good production, but instead local production may have actually expanded to produce “second-tier” prestige goods for burgeoning upriver trade alliances and escalating wealth displays in ritual feasting. While the historical record has little to say about how mundane domestic goods are produced in contact period Philippine chiefdoms, analysis of the 262 Foreign Trade and Internal Transformation abundant plain earthenware pottery from archaeological sites provides some insights into changing production modes. The archaeological evidence suggests that manufacture of domestic pottery remained a part-time household craft until the mid–second millennium a.d., when highly standardized forms at some coastal chiefly centers indicate a possible shift to centralized production. One possible factor in the emergence of full-time specialist manufacture of domestic earthenware entails the expanded production demands of growing riverine trade networks moving ceramics and other lowland products into the interior (see Chapter 8). Craft Specialization Brumfiel and Earle (1987) have made a useful distinction between two types of full-time specialist production modes commonly found in chiefdoms: “attached specialization,” involving the manufacture of socially restricted luxury goods, and “independent specialization,” involving the manufacture of unrestricted goods for a general population of consumers. Attached specialists are craftsmen and craftswomen who produce goods or services under the direct sponsorship or patronage of a chief or other social elite. Their products are geared primarily if not exclusively toward consumption by elite patrons, and their subsistence support is at least partially, if not wholly, furnished by these high-status sponsors. An example examined by Earle (1987b) is the manufacture of feathered cloaks, the most potent material symbol of chiefly power in Hawaiian society, in which chiefs exercised control at every step in the production and distribution process—from feather procurement as part of tribute mobilization, to fabrication by highly skilled featherworkers, to ceremonial presentation of cloaks to chiefly allies by high-ranking chiefs. This kind of specialization, as detailed by Brumfiel and Earle, arises in complex societies out of the desire of the ruling elite to control both the production and the distribution of politically charged commodities that play important roles in political legitimation, serve as the material medium for alliance-building strategies, and provide economic leverage for maintaining political authority. Because of direct chiefly intervention in the production and distribution process and the primary dependence of attached specialists on elite patronage , the workshops of these specialists would be expected to be concentrated in close proximity to areas of elite habitation—at major regional centers, rather than dispersed throughout a region, and near elite residential zones within these centers. Access to this form of...


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