Large ceramic vessels manufactured in southern China and Vietnam were used as shipping containers in Asia’s extensive maritime trade of the second millennium AD. Carl Guthe collected this large vessel on Jolo Island in the southern Philippines in the early 1920s. Similar vessels have been recovered in a 12th-century shipwreck near Java, and the form has been dated from the 12th through 14th centuries. The potter applied a sinuous dragon motif to each side of the vessel shoulders beneath six small vertical handles. Dragon jars remained in use for centuries after they reached the Philippines and often became valued family heirlooms. This vessel is described in Guthe’s field catalog as part of general “miscellaneous” collections from Jolo, rather than from an archaeological site, and likely was once a family heirloom.
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.