A Philippine Leaf
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Errors in Early Calatagan Pot Material

by Hector Santos
© 1996 by Hector Santos
All rights reserved.

One disheartening thing I found while digging up information on this old, forgotten artifact was that many published articles and even a book had wrong information. This is unfortunate since the error occurred in the early days when the Calatagan pot was still in the eyes of researchers. The errors in these early, supposedly authoritative articles were picked up and carried on by other writers in later articles. It will now take many years before the pipeline is purged of incorrect information.

This error was incorporated in Jean-Paul Potet's "Morphologie du Philippin.". A wrong illustration was also used in "The Butuan paleograph: ethnographic implications of an ancient script" by Jesus T. Peralta in the March 1979 issue of Archipelago. Both illustrations in the above articles drop symbol 3-6. The Archipelago illustration, which incidentally had nothing to do with the article, additionally left out symbol 6-4. (See "Calatagan Pot Translations" to see what these symbols are.)

Where and how did these errors originate? Although I have not reviewed all previously written articles with sketches of the Calatagan pot, the most widely circulated and quoted source was Juan Francisco's Philippine Palaeography (Quezon City, 1973). On page 101 of the book, Fig. 11, Plano-view of the Calatagan Pot Scripts, shows an artist's rendition with only 6 symbols in Group 3.

Wrong Chart from Francisco

Francisco says on page 36,

4. The next problem concerns the identity of the letters. There are thirty-nine symbols in the inscription...
(Italics mine.)
There are actually 40 symbols written on the Calatagan pot, not counting the vertical separators.

Undoubtedly, there are many more articles in circulation with wrong illustrations. I believe most errors came from use of the widely-cited Francisco book, one of the earliest ones that came out.

Additional Reading

  1. Francisco, Juan R. "Philippine palaeography," in Philippine Journal of Linguistics special monograph 3 (Quezon City, 1973).
  2. Peralta, Jesus T. "The Butuan palaeograph: ethnographic implications of an ancient script," in Archipelago 6:A-55 (1979): 31-33.
  3. Potet, Jean-Paul G. "Morphologie du Philippin." Doctoral dissertation, ╔cole des Hautes ╔tudes en Sciences Sociales. Paris, 1983.
  4. Santos, Hector. "Artifacts with writing revisited" in Sulat sa Tans˘, 2:5 (June 1995), 1.
  5. -----. "Errors in earlier Calatagan material" in Sulat sa Tans˘, 2:5 (June 1995), 1-2.
  6. -----. "Other pre-Hispanic writing artifacts" in Sulat sa Tans˘, 2:2 (February 1995), 1.
  7. -----. "The Calatagan pot" in Sulat sa Tans˘, 2:2 (February 1995), 4-5.
  8. -----. "The writing on the Calatagan jar" in Sulat sa Tans˘, 2:5 (June 1995), 3-5.

Other Mysterious Philippine Scripts

To cite:
Santos, Hector. "Errors in Early Calatagan Pot Material" in A Philippine Leaf at http://www.bibingka.com/dahon/mystery/pot2.htm. US, October 28, 1996.
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Please send me your comments. I would love to hear from you.
Hector Santos <hectorsan@bibingka.com> Los Angeles
Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 1999