Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The ancient tools and burial jars of precolonial Filipinos articulate their worldview that life is a journey and physical death is not the end of everything in this travel. In fact, they see continuity of this voyage after death, which means the Filipinos have a concept of the afterlife wherein whatever the dead had engaged in while still alive, they can still proceed performing in life after death.
The ancient tools used by precolonial Filipinos for fishing, hunting, gathering and homemaking show the journey that life is. Being travelers, the precolonial Filipinos needed to equip themselves in order to survive. The spears, knives, grinding tools and the like were used to find the sustenance for the day. The palayok and tapayan, for instance, were used for cooking and storing water, respectively.
Meanwhile, when these early people's lives ended, their journey didn't necessarily. These folks saw a kind of postmortem life so when the living buried their dead, they placed their deceased relatives in jars that symbolized their boat sailing to the afterworld. Along with these jars were food, adornments, ancient tools and other materials used in the living world just so the spirits could go about easily as they had done while still alive. Examples of jars and their associated articles include but not limited to the Maitum Anthropomorphic potteries of Sarangani province as well as the iconic Manunggul jar of Palawan.
In such a case, the deceased somewhat defied death because it was as if they were still very much a part of the living world: there was continuity in their travel and there was even fluidity in this continuation of life.