A Japanese archaeologist confirmed the existence of 17th- to 19th-century Japanese ceramics in Boljoon town, southern Cebu, the first intact artifacts found in the country.
Dr. Takenory Nogami, a Japanese researcher from the Arita Museum of History, expressed excitement over the discovery of a large dish and a jarlet “emariware” or Japanese porcelain.
“The recovered pieces in Boljoon are unique because it is still intact in the aquare,” Nogami told reporters in the Museo sa Sugbo last Saturday.
The pieces were discovered in 2009 through an excavation project of the Sumitomo Foundation-funded Boljoon Archaeological Project conducted by the University of San Carlos (USC) with the National Museum of the Philippines.
The pieces were currently in display on the Boljoon Parish museum.
Dr. Nogami, who joined the team in phase 6 of their excavation, also searched recovered ceramic shards that were of Japanese origin.
The shards of large dishes recovered from the excavation site would serve as “evidence” on the occurrence of the trading activity back in the 16th century, Nogami said.
Nogami identified the shards by drawing the rest of the pieces to determine the shape of the artifacts.
He said the recovered pieces of Yoshida porcelain characterized by its narrow bottom and Anita type with its wider bottom.
The recovered intact large dish is a Yoshida porcelain, he said.
He said the Japanese porcelain looked “almost exactly” like Chinese porcelain since the Japanese potters used to import from China and eventually copied the designs of the porcelains.
But he said the style of “cooking” or manufacturing the porcelain by the Japanese was taken from the Koreans.
He said during the 16th century, the Japanese incursions brought many Koreans in Japan which set off the trade and export of pottery between the two countries.
Archaeologist Ame Garong of the National Museum of the Philippines said the recovered pieces may have been the offering of loved ones to their deceased family members.
The recovered porcelains were found next to the bones of a child, in an area that used to be a cemetery from the 17th to 18th century.
She told Cebu Daily News that the story behind the porcelain and the child in that area still remains a “mystery.”
The time period covers the onset of the Spanish civilization which saw an active trading civilization in the community.
Nogami said he is also interested to bring the recovered pieces for exhibition in Japan to celebrate the 400th year of history of the Arita porcelain by 2016.