The Manunggul jar is one of the anthropomorphic potteries found by archaeologists from the National Museum and by U.S. Peace Corps volunteers Hans Kasten, Victor Decalan, et. al. in a burial site in the Tabon Cave Complex in Lipuun Point, Quezon Province in March 1964. Discovered in Chamber A of Manunggul Cave, this burial jar featured a vessel carrying two human figures in sitting position, with the one behind steering the boat and the other waiting to reach the afterlife.
The Manunggul jar is classified as a secondary burial jar, which means that only the bones of the corpse are placed inside. It has an elaborate design consisting of scrolls and curves on the top cover and is painted with hematite - a type of mineral that produces red coloring once subjected to heat. However, the most remarkable part of the jar is its lid which features two souls sailing to the afterworld in a death boat.
The figure at the rear is holding a steering paddle, although the blade of the paddle is missing. The one in front is believed to be the soul of the person whose remains are inside the jar, since it has its arms folded across its chest which was the usual position of a corpse being prepared for burial. It also seems like the figures are wearing cloth bands tied over the crowns of their heads, more evidence of indigenous burial practices in the Philippines.
The Manunggul jar is an important archaeological artifact providing clues about prehistoric society in the Philippines. It proves early Filipinos' concept of death and their belief in an afterlife and that there were means to communicate with their dead relatives. At present, this Filipino tradition is still practiced by many indigenous groups.
- archaeology. (accessed on September 12, 2007).
- Baquiran, Romulo, Jr. “Bangang Manunggul.” 101 Filipino Icons. Manila: Adarna House, Inc. and Bench, 2007.