Asian Perspectives, 2015 - Volume 54, Number 2 (Fall)

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 13
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    Early Gold Ornaments of Southeast Asia: Production, Trade, and Consumption
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2015) Demandt, Michèle H. S.
    In the last decade a variety of gold ornaments have come to light through excavations and the illegal looting of Iron Age and early historical sites in Southeast Asia. Although these gold objects are personal ornaments testifying to an innovative local craft tradition that was partly inspired by foreign technologies and styles, their role in the interregional and long-distance exchange network of the early Southeast Asian communities has been rarely considered. This study of early gold ornaments brings together important gold discoveries on sites in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and southern China, and discusses similarities in production, consumption, and exchange. It further attempts to offer some new insights into sociopolitical and economic changes on a regional scale, and hopes to contribute to a longue-durée examination of trading connections across Asia. It is proposed that the first arrival of gold ornaments was closely related to the blossoming of trade activities on the terrestrial and maritime silk routes, and the political, religious, and artistic ideas that reached Southeast Asia from far-away regions such as the Greco-Buddhist and Hindu-Buddhist regions. Furthermore it is argued that gold ornaments were prestige goods and an essential part of dressing strategies through which changing elite identities were expressed.
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    Okinawa as Transported Landscape: Understanding Japanese Archaeological Remains on Tinian Using Ryūkyū Ethnohistory and Ethnography
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2015) Dixon, Boyd
    The two islands of Okinawa and Tinian in the western Pacific are often linked in the modern archaeological literature by a common ethnic heritage in the early twentieth century, with Okinawan culture serving as a template for interpreting the archaeological remains of the Japanese sugarcane plantation era in Tinian. Tens of thousands of Okinawans immigrated to Tinian and other Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to be tenant farmers or contract laborers on the plantations between the 1920s and 1944, when they could no longer leave. Structural and functional parallels do indeed exist between the architectural remains of many farmsteads of the plantation era on both islands. The extent to which these archaeological remains on Tinian reflect a “transported landscape” from Okinawa versus a Japanese colonial construct is explored, using the vehicle of Okinawan ethnohistory and ethnography.
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    The Curious Case of the Steamship on the Mekong
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2015) Tan, Noel Hidalgo ; Walker-Vadillo, Veronica
    Painted and engraved rock art appear at the Pak Ou caves, a complex of caverns containing Buddhist offerings and shrines located at the confluence of two rivers in Luang Prabang Province, Lao PDR. Faded red paintings and writing can be found on the cliff face housing the lower cave, colloquially known as the “Cave of a Thousand Buddhas,” while in the upper cave, red anthropomorphs and flowers along with black anthropomorphic figures are painted on the walls. This red and black rock art may predate the Buddhist use of the cave. However, one painting found in the upper cave 10 m from the entrance is unusual as it utilizes a green pigment, and resembles modern steamships that might have transited the upper Mekong. This article considers the historic context of the cave and significance of this Laotian rock art site, which has received little attention in academic literature thus far. Because boat imagery in rock art is not unheard of in Southeast Asia, we hope to highlight the potential for this art to illuminate episodes from the recent past.
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    Obscuring the Line between the Living and the Dead: Mortuary Activities inside the Grave Chambers of the Eastern Han Dynasty, China
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2015) Ligant, Zhou
    The complex mortuary rituals practiced during the Han dynasty (206 b.c. to a.d. 220) in China are well documented in textual records dating to the period. However, these records, as well as more recent archaeological investigations, focus solely on mortuary treatment of the elite, completely overlooking the burial rites practiced by commoners in the same period. Based on my excavation of a group of Han dynasty commoner graves, I describe the mortuary treatment afforded to commoners in this period. I contend that a key structural feature, an exterior ramp constructed beside the vertical pit of some Han tombs that appeared in the early Eastern Han period, reflects people’s intention to enter the chamber and make offerings to the dead. There are also rare cases of reentering the chamber to make offerings after the funeral. This is supported by a secondary ramp built after the graves had been sealed. Considering the widely referenced fear of ghosts, reentering the tomb to make offerings after the funeral seems to obscure the line between the living and dead and was unusual. I argue that the emergence of such activity is a display of filial piety, a practice highly valued in Han society. The current study demonstrates that burial structures can reveal important aspects of burial rituals and provide new information about the funeral practices of common people in the Eastern Han dynasty.
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    Landscape Evolution and Human Settlement Patterns on Ofu Island, Manu’a Group, American Samoa
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2015) Quintus, Seth ; Clark, Jeffrey T. ; Day, Stephanie S. ; Schwert, Donald P.
    This study summarizes the impacts of geomorphological processes on human settlement strategies on the island of Ofu in the Samoan Archipelago from island colonization to permanent settlement in the interior uplands (c. 2700–900 b.p.). Previous archaeological research on Ofu has documented a dynamic coastal landscape at one location, To’aga, on the southern coast. Using a new geoarchaeological data set, our study extends this assessment to a site on the western coast of the island. We conclude that although the sequence of coastal evolution is broadly consistent between the two areas there are also differences indicating that island-wide coastal evolution did not progress everywhere at the same rate. Using this data set, we record changes in human settlement patterns temporally correlated with coastal progradation—perhaps related to continued drawdown from the mid-Holocene sea-level highstand—and sediment aggradation. We suggest that coastal landscape change on Ofu may have been one factor in the expansion of the terrestrial component of the human subsistence base and the more intensive use of the interior uplands of the island. The timing of this settlement change was slightly earlier than elsewhere in the region, demonstrating the variability of human response to regional-scale environmental changes.
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    Editors' Note
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2015) Carson, Mike ; Flad, Rowan
    Asian Perspectives proceeds now with more than 50 years of production as a leading journal of Asian and Pacific archaeology. Much has changed over the years as the journal has adapted to one challenge after another. More change can be expected, as we consider innovative approaches to delivering high-quality scholarship to our readers.
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    Table of Contents
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2015)