The collection of grave goods comes from one of the biggest archeological projects in the Philippines, in Calatagan, located in the western portion of Batangas province. First explored in 1934, hundreds of burial sites were discovered containing about a thousand pieces of whole and broken tradewares dating back to the fifteenth and sixteenth-century ceramic traditions of China, Thailand, and Vietnam. The items come, specifically, from the Robert Fox excavations.
While the ceramics tell the story of precolonial Philippine trade relations, the Philippine earthenwares tell of local history before foreign contact. Of the pieces that stand out are the green glaze and the blue-and-white wares which are among key trade items that China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Burma exchanged for sea and forest products in the region. Their recipients, such as coastal merchants in the Philippines, in turn, sent them inland along well-established trade routes. Head archaeologist, Robert Fox, noted that of the blue-and-white wares discovered in Calatagan, most were from the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368 to 1643). The green glaze wares recovered from these burial sites constitute some of the more dramatic monochromes to come from the Sung dynasty (A.D. 960-1279) in the Philippines.
Philippine earthenwares were fired at low temperatures and found use as both “utilitarian vessel and cult object” in the daily lives of pre-Contact and pre-Colonial Filipinos. Since the materials were less hardy than stoneware and visually less colorful than porcelains, they were found in lesser quantities in graves. Included among these finds in the LML collections is a rare carved figure called likha — a label ascribed to “squatting or seated wood or stone figures” that may have been regarded as a cult object during pre-Colonial times.