Yamashita’s gold as a modern take on an old tale

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A new paper in the Journal of Folklore Research argues that the legend of Yamashita’s gold, a source of many a treasure-hunting expedition in the Philippines – is a modern iteration of a post-colonial longing for hope and prosperity.

Excavating a Hidden Bell Story from the Philippines: A Revised Narrative of Cultural-Linguistic Loss and Recuperation
Journal of Folklore Research
Vol. 53, No. 2 (May/August 2016), pp. 86-113

Yamashita’s gold has been found and it’s not what you think
Rappler, 07 August 2016

The hunt for war treasure in the Philippines has hidden meanings
Science Daily, 10 August 2016

Stories of hidden valuable artifacts are told in many parts of the Philippines. One such tale is of a church bell, concealed to prevent theft but now beyond reach (Motif V115.1.3, Sunken church bell cannot be raised). Typically, these stories are transmitted orally. However the small Eskaya community of southeast Bohol maintains a written version of a lost-bell tale included in a larger intergenerational archive of hand-copied literature. Since the early 1980s, the Eskaya have been an object of media interest for having consciously created their own “indigenous” language, writing system, and literary tradition. This paper examines the meanings of the Eskaya variant of the lostbell story in the context of community aspirations for recognition as an indigenous minority. In the Eskaya version, pre-Hispanic native faith is valorized over the corrupted Christianity introduced by Spain. The deliberately concealed church bell and its promised future retrieval recapitulates wider postcolonial narratives of cultural-linguistic suppression and revitalization, underscoring the agency of Eskaya people in their retrieval (or reinvention) of a pre-colonial indigenous identity.

Paper here.

Protests over treasure hunters seeking Yamashita's gold

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Protests at the town of Mauban in Quezon, Philippines have forced the government to order the shutdown of a private excavation seeking the fabled WWII Yamashita’s Treasure.

Woes in hunt for Yamashita’s gold
The Straits Times, 27 September 2011
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Yamashita treasure hunt halted
Philippine Inquirer, 14 September 2011
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Cave restriction to fend off hunters of Yamashita's treasure?

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I posted the story about Philippines move to regulate treasure hunting in caves earlier, but a smaller detail in this Inquirer story was a little interesting – besides archaeological and cultural finds, is the Philippines trying to deter hunters for Yamashita’s treasure as well?

Philippines to regulate treasure-hunting
Philippine Inquirer, 27 Dec 2007
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