Kalanay Cave

The Kalanay Cave is a small cave located on the island of Masbate in central Philippines. The cave is located specifically at the northwest coast of the island within the municipality of Aroroy. The artifacts recovered from the site were similar to those found in Southeast Asia and South Vietnam. The site is one of the "Sa Huynh-Kalanay" pottery complex which originated from Vietnam. The type of pottery found in the site were dated 400BC-1500 AD.[1][2]

Kalanay Cave
location in Philippines
Locationisland of Masbate
Coordinates12°0′53″N 123°53′8″E


Examination of some pottery from the Carl E. Guthe Collection developed the idea of the Kalanay pottery complex.[3] The cave was first excavated in 1951 and considerable disturbances were noted pre-excavation. In 1935, there was an earthquake which led to portions of the cave’s roof to fall down and pottery scattered around the cave.[4] Excavation of the site was finished in 1953.

Kalanay pottery assemblage

The pottery excavated from the site was divided into varieties, Kalanay and Bagupantao pottery. The pottery also showed great variations in size, shape and decoration. Some of which are plain, while some are incised with tools.[4] Common decoration patterns found around the neck of the pottery are curvilinear scrolls, rectangular meanders, triangles, etc.[3] The paste used for the Kalanay pottery was of typical blackish gray color while Bagupantao pottery was of red-brown and was much finer than in Kalanay. Though after microscopic inspection, their paste are fundamentally the same. Most of the jars were probably for storage or cooking and some were used as ritual bowls.[4]

There are several interpretations for the relationship of Kalanay and Bagupantao pottery:

(1) two distinct pottery traditions were brought together within one pottery-making community.[4]
(2) two pottery groups were made by the same potters but for different functions, which could explain the difference in quality and decorations.[3][4]
(3) they were made by the same potters for two different classes.[4]

Other findings

Other artifacts found in the cave were stone, shell, glass and metal artifacts. Two out of the seven stone artifacts were polished. The glass artifact is a portion of a blue glass bead. Iron and bronze artifacts were found in the site. The iron artifacts excavated were probably used as weapons.[4]

There were also skeletal remains found in the site but due to their fragmentary condition, not much information was obtained.[4]


  1. Solheim, William (1969). "Prehistoric Archaeology in Eastern Mainland Southeast Asia and the Philippines". Asian Perspectives. 3: 97–108.
  2. Miksic, John N. (2003). Earthenware in Southeast Asia: Proceedings of the Singapore Symposium on Premodern Southeast Asian Earthenwares. Singapore: Singapore University Press, National University of Singapore.
  3. Solheim, William. Further Notes on the Kalanay Pottery Complex in the P.I.. retrieved from http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/16643/AP-v3n2-157-166.pdf
  4. Solheim, William G. Archaeology of Central Philippines: a study chiefly on the iron age and its relationships. Manila: Bureau of Print, 1964.
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