Accepted Paper:

The commodification of illicit antiquities: the case of ancient ceramics and the antique shops of Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Northern Philippine  

Author:

Rhayan Melendres (University of the Philippines)

Paper Short Abstract:

Vigan City is the capital of Ilocos Sur, Northern Luzon, Philippines. Aside from its colonial houses, cobblestone streets, and gastronomic cuisines, the city is known for its vintage shops and curios stores that sometimes sell illicit antiquities like ancient ceramics.

Paper long abstract:

Vigan City is the capital of Ilocos Sur, Northern Luzon, Philippines. In 1999, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is the best preserved example of Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture is the confluence of cultural elements from the Philippines, China and Spain. Moreover, in 2014, the city was recognized as one of the new seven wonder cities in the world together with Beirut, Doha, Durban, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and La Paz. Aside from its colonial houses, cobblestone streets, and gastronomic cuisines, the city is known for its vintage shops and curios stores. As a matter of fact, some of the old houses were converted into antique shops that sells old stuff such as religious images, house items and even oriental tradeware ceramics and indigenous prehistoric potteries. I have visited the city many times. As an archaeologist that specializes in the study of oriental trade ceramics, I know that these potteries are from looted sites from burial, habitation and shipwreck sites in the country. This paper will study how these antique shops obtain these very important cultural materials and how they market and profit from them. It will also investigate what are the cultural heritage laws of the Philippines that these antique shops are violating in selling these antiquities. Furthermore, the study will recommend how the illicit antiquities trade via selling them in antique shops be stopped or at least be regulated and monitored.

Panel P20
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