The kingdoms of the ancient Philippines were populated by advanced societies with superior metallurgical technology long before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan and Spanish explorers in 1521 CE.
We know from Spanish colonial historical records that gold was systematically taken from local inhabitants and from burial sites for the Spanish crown. The Spanish had these objects melted down and transformed into bullion and refashioned to create objects for the Catholic Church.
This show at Asia Society showcases the astoundingly skillful work of goldsmiths in the Philippines hundreds of years before the Spanish colonizers arrived.
Gold was always plentiful in the Philippines, readily collected by panning. Today the country is said to have the worldâ€™s second richest gold deposits. When the Spanish landed, they found natives sporting much gold jewelry and regalia. Illustrations in a book from around 1590 called â€œThe Boxer Codex,â€ on view in the exhibition, depict indigenous people wearing ostentatious gold adornments over flowing, colorful garments. But the Spanish colonizers wasted little time in decimating the native cultures and making off with their gold, which they melted down for their own purposes.
The contribution of two million Asians who participated in the First World War is almost entirely forgotten today. This series will explore Asiaâ€™s forgotten role, and how the conflict shaped the continent.