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Some of these merchant ships traded for the natural resources of what early Indian texts refer to as Survarnadvipa, or “Islands of Gold,” a geographic place name that scholars believe refers to the islands of Southeast Asia, including Sumatra in Indonesia and nearby Mindanao and Luzon in the Philippines.The Philippines has the second largest gold deposit in the world.Monsoon winds dictated the comings and goings of merchant ships—the time of year they docked, how long they stayed, and when they set sail.Port settlements near protected coves such as ancient Butuan by the mouth of the Agusan River where it empties into Butuan Bay in northeastern Mindanao attracted ships and sailors seeking refuge from the strong southwest winds that blew from May to November.It affirmed the role of women in nation-building, assured the “substantive equality” of women and men, and declared as state policies the empowerment of women, providing them equal access to resources and development […] Read more…This exhibition presents spectacular works of gold primarily discovered over the past forty years on the Philippine islands of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
During the time when artists and craftsmen created the works in this exhibition, mariners, merchants, missionaries, and emissaries plied the waters connecting the tropical isles to distant lands including China and India.
Similar ceramics recovered from other gravesites along with gold adornments have also provided archaeologists with a valuable baseline for dating the associated gold. In addition, slit hoops used for trade or as personal ornaments similar to those from the Philippines on display in the gallery also were produced in the Mekong River delta region of Vietnam, Java, and eastern Indonesia.
However, it remains unclear where in Southeast Asia the slit hoop form first originated.
The gold discoveries of more recent decades reveal that these early finds are stylistically consistent with gold works found in association with tenth- and thirteenth-century Chinese export ceramics.
In addition to the array of gold objects from various sites throughout the archipelago, archaeologists have recovered hundreds of clay crucibles for smelting gold, gold-working tools, and raw and wrought gold during the excavations of precolonial wooden plank boats () in Butuan in 1976.
is organized by Asia Society, New York, and Ayala Museum, Philippines. Capistrano-Baker, Consulting Curator, Ayala Museum Adriana Proser, John H.