Prestige and Potency: Political Economies of Protohistoric Visayan Polities



This chapter examines elite control of foreign and local craft goods in three protohistoric Visayan polities. Eleventh to sixteenth century archaeological data from the Dumaguete polity in the central Philippines reveal changes in its economy against which to evaluate the tributary, prestige goods, and wealth finance political economy models. Dumaguete's economy exhibits similarities to parts of each model. Within the Visayas, Dumaguete's economy resembled the contemporary Cebu and Tanjay polities in chiefly control of the economy and political valuation of foreign goods. However, Dumaguete's economy differed in scale, types of craft goods produced under elite control, valuation of local craft goods, and possibly in the means for acquiring foreign goods during a period which witnessed an increase in trade within the Southeast Asia-China area. Southeast Asian conceptions of power suggest the political authority of Visayan chiefs derived from their ability to exhibit potency; potency and control over the economy may have thus been in a “circular reciprocal relationship.”