A new translation of the Calatangan Pot inscription

The Calatangan Pot is a prehispanic (14th-16th century) artefact containing an inscription around the neck. It is said to be one of the earliest expressions of prehispanic writing in the Philippines, and there have been several attempts at translating the inscription. Rolando Borrinaga is the latest person to offer an translation of the script, based on old Bisayan and old Tagalog alphabets. You can read about an earlier attempt to decipher the Calatangan Pot incription by University of the Philippines’ Ramon Guillermo here.

Image from The Daily PCU

The mystery of the ancient inscription
The Inquirer, 23 May 2009

AFTER 50 years of enigma, the text inscribed around the shoulder of the Calatagan Pot, the country’s oldest cultural artifact with pre-Hispanic writing, may have been deciphered as written in the old Bisayan language.

Diggers discovered the pot in an archeological site in Calatagan, Batangas, in 1958. They sold it for P6 to a certain Alfredo Evangelista.

Later, the Anthropological Foundation of the Philippines purchased the find and donated it in 1961 to the National Museum, where it is displayed to this day.

The pot, measuring 12 centimeters high and 20.2 cm at its widest and weighing 872 grams, is considered one of the Philippines’ most valuable cultural and anthropological artifacts. It has been dated back to the 14th and 16th centuries.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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