Members of the U-M Philippine Expedition excavated this Chinese porcelain water dropper in the early 1920s from a grave on the Island of Siquijor in the southern Philippines. To the Chinese, paired ducks are symbols of marital happiness. This 15th-century water dropper would have been used to moisten ink stones used in calligraphy. The Philippine owner of the water dropper, however, likely valued it for other reasons, including its exotic origins. Similar vessels have been recovered in recent excavations of the Lena, a Chinese trading ship that sank off the island of Busuanga in AD 1490, during the reign of Ming Emperor Hongzhi.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.