The Bontoc Igorot
Albert Ernest Jenks
Part 4 out of 8
from the birds, and they frequently tend their grandchildren about
the pueblo. They also bring water from the river to the dwelling.
Old women seem generally busy. They prepare and cook foods, and they
spin materials for women's skirts and girdles. The blind women share
in these labors, even going to the river for water.
By labor of the group is meant the common effort of two or more people
whose everyday possessions and accumulations are not in common, as
they are in a family, to perform some definite labor which can be
better done by such effort than by the separate labors of the several
members of the group.
A pueblo war probably represents the largest necessary
group-occupation, because at such time all available warriors unite in
a concerted effort. Next to this, though possibly coming before it,
is the group assembled for the erection of a dwelling. As has been
noted, all dwellings are built by a group, and when a rich man's
domicile is to be put up a great many people assemble -- the men to
erect the dwelling, and the women to prepare and cook the food. A
great deal of agricultural labor is performed by the group. New
irrigation ditches are built by, or at the instance of, all those
who will benefit by them. The dam built annually across the river
at Bontoc pueblo is constructed by all, or at the instance of all,
who benefit from the additional irrigation water. Wild carabaos are
hunted by a group of men, and the domestic carabaos can be caught
only when several men surround and attack them.
All interpueblo commerce is carried on by a group of people. Almost
never does a person pass from one pueblo to another alone, and commerce
is the chief thing which causes the interpueblo communication. These
groups of traveling merchants consist of from two or three persons
to a dozen or more -- as in the case of the Samoki pottery sellers.
Wages, and exchange of labor
The woman receives the same wage as the man. There are two reasons
why she should. First, all labor is by the day, so the facts of
sickness and maternity never keep the woman from her labor when she
is expected and is depended on; and, second, she is as efficient in
the labors she performs as is the man -- in some she is recognized
as more efficient. She does as much work as a man, and does it as
well or better. It is worth so much to have a certain work done in a
particular time, and the Igorot pays the wage to whomever does the
work. The growing boy or girl who performs the same labors as an
adult receives an equal wage.
Not only do the people work by the day, but they are paid daily
also. Every night the laborer goes to the dwelling of his employer
and receives the wage; the wages of unmarried children are paid to
To all classes of laborers dinner and sometimes supper is supplied. For
weeding and thinning the sementeras of young palay and for watching
the fruiting palay to drive away the birds, the only wage is these
two meals. But this labor is light, and frightening away the birds is
usually the work of children or very old people who can not perform
hard labors. In all classes of work for which only food is given,
much time is left to the laborers in which the men may weave their
basket work and the women spin the bark-fiber thread for skirts.
Five manojos of palay is the daily wage for all laborers except
those mentioned in the last paragraph. This is the wage of the wood
gatherer in the mountains, of the builder of granaries, sementeras,
irrigating ditches, and dikes, and of those who prepare soils and
who plant and harvest crops.
There is much exchange of labor between individuals, and even between
large groups of people, such as members of an ato. Formerly exchange
of labor was practiced slightly more than at present, but to-day,
as has been noted, all dwellings are built by the unpaid labor
of those who come for the accompanying feast and "good time," and
because their own dwellings were or will be built by such labor. A
great deal of agricultural labor is now paid for in kind; practically
all the available labor in an ato turns out to help a member when a
piece of work is urgent. However, it is not customary for poor people
to exchange their labor, since they constantly need food for those
dependent on them. When the poor man desires a wage for his toil he
needs only to tell some rich person that he wishes to work for him --
both understand that a wage will be paid.
By the term "distribution" is here meant the ordinary division of
the productions of Bontoc area among the several classes of Igorot
in the area -- in other words, what is each person's share of that
which the area produces?
It must be said that distribution is very equitable. Wages are
uniform. No man or set of men habitually spoils another's accumulations
by exacting from him a tax or "rake off." There is no form of gambling
or winning another's earnings. There are no slaves or others who
labor without wages; children do not retain their own wages until
they marry, but they inherit all their parents' possessions. There is
almost no usury. There is no indigent class, and the rich men toil
as industriously in the fields as do the poor -- though I must say
I never knew a rich man to go as cargador on the trail.
Higher forms of society, even such society as the Christianized
Filipinos of the coastal cities, produce and possess a considerable
number of people who live and often raise families on personal
property stolen and carried away from the lawful owners. Almost no
thief in the Bontoc area escapes detection -- the society is too
simple for him to escape -- and when he is apprehended he restores
more than he took away. There is no opportunity for a thief class
to develop, consequently there is no chance for theft to distort the
usual equitable division of products.
Conquest, or the act of gaining control and acquisition of another's
property by force of arms, is not operative in the Bontoc area. Moro
and perhaps other southern Malayan people frequently capture people
by conquest whom they enslave, and they also bring back much valuable
loot in the shape of metals and the much-prized large earthen jars.
Certain Igorot, as those of Asin, make forcible conquests on their
neighbors and carry away persons for slavery. Asin made a raid westward
into Suyak of Lepanto Province in 1900, and some American miners joined
the expedition of natives to try to recover the captives. But Bontoc
has no such conquests, and, since the people have long ago ceased
migration, there is no conquest of territory. In their interpueblo
warfare loot is seldom carried away. There is practically nothing in
the form of movable and easily controlled valuable possessions, such
as domestic cattle, horses, or carabaos, so the usual equilibrium of
Bontoc property distribution has little to disturb it.
The primitive agriculturist is thought of in history as the victim of
warlike neighbors who make predatory forays against him, repeatedly
robbing him of his hard-earned accumulations. In Igorot land this
is not the case. There are no savage or barbaric people, except the
Negritos who are not agriculturists. Sometimes, however, some of
the Igorot groups descend to the settlements of the Christians in
the lowlands and in the night bring back a few carabaos and hogs. The
Igorot of Quiangan are noted for such robberies made on the pueblos of
Bagabag and Ibung to the south in central Nueva Vizcaya. Sometimes,
also, one Igorot group speaks of another as Busol, or enemy, and
says the Busol come to rob them in the night. I believe, however,
from inquiries made, that relatively very small amounts of property
pass from one Igorot group to another by robbery or conquest.
The Bontoc Igorot appears to be in a transition stage, not usually
emphasized, between the communism of the savage or barbarian in which
each person is said to have a share as long as necessities last, and
the more advanced forms of society in which many classes are able to
divert to their own advantage much which otherwise would not come
to them. The Igorot is not a communist, neither in any sense does
he get the monopolist's share. He is living a life of such natural
production that he enjoys the fruits of his labors in a fairer way
than do many of the men beneath him or above him in culture.
Under this title will be considered simply the foods and beverages
of the people. No attempt will be made to treat of consumption in
its breadth as it appears to the economist.
There are few forms of animal life about the Igorot that he will not
and does not eat. The exceptions are mainly insectivora, and such
larger animals as the mythology of the Igorot says were once men --
as the monkey, serpent-eagle, crow, snake, etc. However, he is not
wholly lacking in taste and preference in his foods. Of his common
vegetable foods he frequently said he prefers, first, beans; second,
rice; third, maize; fourth, camotes; fifth, millet.
Rice is the staple food, and most families have sufficient for
subsistence during the year. When rice is needed for food bunches
of the palay, as tied up at the harvest, are brought and laid in the
small pocket of the wooden mortar where they are threshed out of the
fruit head. One or two mortarsful is thus threshed and put aside on
a winnowing tray. When sufficient has been obtained the grain is put
again in the mortar and pounded to remove the pellicle. Usually only
sufficient rice is threshed and cleaned for the consumption of one
or two days. When the pellicle has been pounded loose the grain is
winnowed on a large round tray by a series of dexterous movements,
removing all chaff and dirt with scarcely the loss of a kernel of
The work of threshing, hulling, and winnowing usually falls to the
women and girls, but is sometimes performed by the men when their
women are preoccupied. At one time when an American wished two or
three bushels of palay threshed, as horse food for the trail, three
Bontoc men performed the work in the classic treadmill manner. They
spread a mat on the earth, covered it with palay, and then tread,
or rather "rubbed," out the kernels with their bare feet. They often
scraped up the mass with their feet, bunching it and rubbing it in
a way that strongly suggested hands.
Rice is cooked in water without salt. An earthern pot is half filled
with the grain and is then filled to the brim with cold water. In
about twenty minutes the rice is cooked, filling the vessel, and
the water is all absorbed or evaporated. If there is no great haste,
the rice sets ten or fifteen minutes longer while the kernels dry out
somewhat. As the Igorot cooks rice, or, for that matter, as the native
anywhere in the Islands cooks it, the grains are not mashed and mussed
together, but each kernel remains whole and separate from the others.
Cooked rice, ma-kan', is almost always eaten with the fingers, being
crowded into the mouth with the back of the thumb. In Bontoc, Samoki,
Titipan, Mayinit, and Ganang salt is either sprinkled on the rice
after it is dished out or is tasted from the finger tips during the
eating. In some pueblos, as at Tulubin, almost no salt is eaten at
any time. When rice alone is eaten at a meal a family of five adults
eats about ten Bontoc manojo of rice per day.
Beans are cooked in the form of a thick soup, but without salt. Beans
and rice, each cooked separately, are frequently eaten together;
such a dish is called "sib-fan'." Salt is eaten with sib-fan' by
those pueblos which commonly consume salt.
Maize is husked, silked, and then cooked on the cob. It is eaten from
the cob, and no salt is used either in the cooking or eating.
Camotes are eaten raw a great deal about the pueblo, the sementera,
and the trail. Before they are cooked they are pared and generally
cut in pieces about 2 inches long; they are boiled without salt. They
are eaten alone at many meals, but are relished best when eaten with
rice. They are always eaten from the fingers.
One dish, called "ke-le'-ke," consists of camotes, pared and sliced,
and cooked and eaten with rice. This is a ceremonial dish, and is
always prepared at the lis-lis ceremony and at a-su-fal'-i-wis or
Camotes are always prepared immediately before being cooked, as they
blacken very quickly after paring.
Millet is stored in the harvest bunches, and must be threshed before it
is eaten. After being threshed in the wooden mortar the winnowed seeds
are again returned to the mortar and crushed. This crushed grain is
cooked as is rice and without salt. It is eaten also with the hands --
"fingers" is too delicate a term.
Some other vegetable foods are also cooked and eaten by the
Igorot. Among them is taro which, however, is seldom grown in the
Bontoc area. Outside the area, both north and south, there are large
sementeras of it cultivated for food. Several wild plants are also
gathered, and the leaves cooked and eaten as the American eats
The Bontoc Igorot also has preferences among his regular flesh
foods. The chicken is prized most; next he favors pork; third, fish;
fourth, carabao; and fifth, dog. Chicken, pork (except wild hog),
and dog are never eaten except ceremonially. Fish and carabao are
eaten on ceremonial occasions, but are also eaten at other times --
merely as food.
The interesting ceremonial killing, dressing, and eating of chickens is
presented elsewhere, in the sections on "Death" and "Ceremonials." It
is unnecessary to repeat the information here, as the processes
are everywhere the same, excepting that generally no part of the
fowl, except the feathers, is unconsumed -- head, feet, intestines,
everything, is devoured.
The hog is ceremonially killed by cutting its throat, not by
"sticking," as is the American custom, but the neck is cut, half
severing the head. At Ambuklao, on the Agno River in Benguet Province,
I saw a hog ceremonially killed by having a round-pointed stick an
inch in diameter pushed and twisted into it from the right side behind
the foreleg, through and between the ribs, and into the heart. The
animal bled internally, and, while it was being cut up by four men
with much ceremony and show, the blood was scooped from the rib basin
where it had gathered, and was mixed with the animal's brains. The
intestines were then emptied by drawing between thumb and fingers,
and the blood and brain mixture poured into them from the stomach
as a funnel. A string of blood-and-brain sausages resulted, when the
intestines were cooked. The mouth of the Bontoc hog is held or tied
shut until the animal is dead. The Benguet hog could be heard for
fifteen minutes at least a quarter of a mile.
After the Bontoc hog is killed it is singed, cut up, and all put in
the large shallow iron boiler. When cooked it is cut into smaller
pieces, which are passed around to those assembled at the ceremonial.
Fish are eaten both ceremonially and privately whenever they
may be obtained. The small fish, the kacho, are in no way
cleaned or dressed. Two or three times I saw them cooked and
eaten ceremonially, and was told they are prepared the same way
for private consumption. The fish, scarcely any over 2 inches in
length, were strung on twisted green-grass strings about 6 inches in
length. Several of these strings were tied together and placed in an
olla of water. When cooked they were lifted out, the strings broken
apart, and the fish stripped off into a wooden bowl. Salt was then
liberally strewn over them. A large green leaf was brought as a plate
for each person present, and the fish were divided again and again
until each had an equal share. However, the old men present received
double share, and were served before the others. At one time a man
was present with a nursing babe in his arms, and he was given two
leaves, or two shares, though no one expected the babe could eat its
share. After the fish food was passed to each, the broth was also
liberally salted and then poured into several wooden bowls. At one
fish feast platters of cooked rice and squash were also brought and
set among the people. Handful after handful of solid food followed
its predecessor rapidly to the always-crammed mouth. The fish was
eaten as one might eat sparingly of a delicacy, and the broth was
drunk now and then between mouthfuls.
Two other fish are also eaten by the Igorot of the area, the liling,
about 4 to 6 inches in length -- also cooked and eaten without dressing
-- and the chalit, a large fish said to acquire the length of 4 feet.
Several small animals, crustaceans and mollusks, gathered in the
river and picked up in the sementeras by the women, are cooked
and eaten. All these are considered similar to fish and are eaten
similarly. Among these is a bright-red crab called "agkama."
This is boiled and all eaten except part of the back shell and the
hard "pinchers." A shrimp-like crustacean obtained in the irrigated
sementeras is also boiled and eaten entire. A few mollusks are eaten
after being cooked. One, called kitan, I have seen eaten many times;
it is a snail-like animal, and after being boiled it is sucked into the
mouth after the apex of the shell has been bitten or broken off. Two
other animals said to be somewhat similar are called finga and lischug.
The carabao is killed by spearing and, though also eaten simply as
food, it is seldom killed except on ceremonial occasions, such as
marriages, funerals, the building of a dwelling, and peace and war
feasts whether actual events at the time or feasts in commemoration.
The chief occasion for eating carabao merely as a food is when an
animal is injured or ill at a time when no ceremonial event is at
hand. The animal is then killed and eaten. All is eaten that can be
masticated. The animal is neither skinned, singed, nor scraped. All is
cut up and cooked together -- hide, hair, hoofs, intestines, and head,
excepting the horns. Carabao is generally not salted in cooking, and
the use of salt in eating the flesh depends on the individual eater.
Sometimes large pieces of raw carabao meat are laid on high racks
near the dwelling and "dried" in the sun. There are several such
racks in Bontoc, and one can know a long distance from them whether
they hold "dried" meat. If one pueblo, in the area exceeds another in
the strength and unpleasantness of its "dried" meat it is Mayinit,
where on the occasion of a visit there a very small piece of meat
jammed on a stick-like a "taffy stick" -- and joyfully sucked by a
2-year-old babe successfully bombarded and depopulated our camp.
Various meats, called "it-tag'," as carabao and pork, are "preserved"
by salting down in large bejuco-bound gourds, called "fa'-lay,"
or in tightly covered ollas, called "tu-u'-nan." All pueblos in the
area (except Ambawan, which has an unexplained taboo against eating
carabao) thus store away meats, but Bitwagan, Sadanga, and Tukukan
habitually salt large quantities in the fa'-lay. Meats are kept thus
two or three years, though of course the odor is vile.
The dog ranks last in the list of regular flesh foods of the Bontoc
man. In the Benguet area it ranks second, pork receiving the first
place. The Ibilao does not eat dog -- his dog is a hunter and guard,
giving alarm of the approaching enemy.
In Bontoc the dog is eaten only on ceremonial occasions. Funerals
and marriages are probably more often celebrated by a dog feast than
are any other of their ceremonials. The animal's mouth is held closed
and his legs secured while he is killed by cutting the throat. Then
his tail is cut off close to the body -- why, I could not learn,
but I once saw it, and am told it always is so. The animal is singed
in the fire and the crisped hair rubbed off with sticks and hands,
after which it is cut up and boiled, and then further cut up and
eaten as is the carabao meat.
Young babies are sometimes fed hard-boiled fresh eggs, but the Igorot
otherwise does not eat "fresh" eggs, though he does eat large numbers
of stale ones. He prefers to wait, as one of them said, "until
there is something in the egg to eat." He invariably brings stale
or developing eggs to the American until he is told to bring fresh
ones. It is not alone the Igorot who has this peculiar preference --
the same condition exists widespread in the Archipelago.
Locusts, or cho'-chon, are gathered, cooked, and eaten by the Igorot,
as by all other natives in the Islands. They are greatly relished,
but may be had in Bontoc only irregularly -- perhaps once or twice
for a week or ten days each year, or once in two years. They are
cooked in boiling water and later dried, whereupon they become crisp
and sweet. By some Igorot they are stored away, but I can not say
whether they are kept in Bontoc any considerable time after cooking.
The locusts come in storms, literally like a pelting, large-flaked
snowstorm, driving across the country for hours and even days at a
time. All Igorot have large scoop nets for catching them and immense
bottle-like baskets in which to put them and transport them home. The
locust catcher runs along in the storm, and, whirling around in it with
his large net, scoops in the victims. Many families sometimes wander
a week or more catching locusts when they come to their vicinity, and
cease only when miles from home. The cry of "enemy" will scarcely set
an Igorot community astir sooner than will the cry of "cho'-chon." The
locust is looked upon by them as a very manna from heaven. Pi-na-lat'
is a food of cooked locusts pounded and mixed with uncooked rice. All
is salted down in an olla and tightly covered over with a vegetable
leaf or a piece of cloth. When it is eaten the mixture is cooked,
though this cooking does not kill the strong odor of decay.
Other insect foods are also eaten. I once saw a number of men
industriously robbing the large white "eggs" from an ant nest in
a tree. The nest was built of leaves attached by a web. Into the
bottom of this closed pocket the men poked a hole with a long stick,
letting a pint or more of the white pupae run out on a winnowing tray
on the earth. From this tray the furious ants were at length driven,
and the eggs taken home for cooking.
The Igorot drinks water much more than any other beverage. On the
trail, though carrying loads while the American may walk empty handed,
he drinks less than the American. He seldom drinks while eating,
though he makes a beverage said to be drunk only at mealtime. After
meals he usually drinks water copiously.
Ba-si is the Igorot name of the fermented beverage prepared from sugar
cane. "Ba-si," under various names, is found widespread throughout
the Islands. The Bontoc man makes his ba-si in December. He boils
the expressed juice of the sugar cane about six hours, at which time
he puts into it a handful of vegetable ferment obtained from a tree
called "tub-fig'." This vegetable ferment is gathered from the tree
as a flower or young fruit; it is dried and stored in the dwelling
for future use. The brewed liquid is poured into a large olla,
the flat-bottom variety called "fu-o-foy'" manufactured expressly
for ba-si, and then is tightly covered over and set away in the
granary. In five days the ferment has worked sufficiently, and the
beverage may be drunk. It remains good about four months, for during
the fifth or sixth month it turns very acid.
Ba-si is manufactured by the men alone. Tukukan and Titipan manufacture
it to sell to other pueblos; it is sold for about half a peso per
gallon. It is drunk quite a good deal during the year, though mostly
on ceremonial occasions. Men frequently carry a small amount of it
with them to the sementeras when they guard them against the wild hogs
during the long nights. They say it helps to keep them warm. One glass
of ba-si will intoxicate a person not accustomed to drink it, though
the Igorot who uses it habitually may drink two or three glasses before
intoxication. Usually a man drinks only a few swallows of it at a time,
and I never saw an Igorot intoxicated except during some ceremony and
then not more than a dozen in several months. Women never drink ba-si.
Ta-pu-i is a fermented drink made from rice, the cha-yet'-it variety,
they say, grown in Bontoc pueblo. It is a very sweet and sticky rice
when cooked. This beverage also is found practically everywhere in the
Archipelago. Only a small amount of the cha-yet'-it is grown by Bontoc
pueblo. To manufacture ta-pu-i the rice is cooked and then spread on a
winnowing tray until it is cold. When cold a few ounces of a ferment
called "fu-fud" are sprinkled over it and thoroughly stirred in; all
is then put in an olla, which is tied over and set away. The ferment
consists of cane sugar and dry raw rice pounded and pulverized together
to a fine powder. This is then spread in the sun to dry and is later
squeezed into small balls some 2 inches in diameter. This ferment will
keep a year. When needed a ball is pulverized and sprinkled fine over
the cooked rice. An olla of rice prepared for ta-pu-i will be found
in one day half filled with the beverage.
Ta-pu-i will keep only about two months. It is never drunk by the
women, though they do eat the sweet rice kernels from the jar,
and they, as well as the men, manufacture it. It is claimed never
to be manufactured in the Bontoc area for sale. A half glass of the
beverage will intoxicate. At the end of a month the beverage is very
intoxicating, and is then commonly weakened with water. Ta-pu-i is
much preferred to ba-si.
The Bontoc man prepares another drink which is filthy, and, even they
themselves say, vile smelling. It is called "sa-fu-eng'," is drunk at
meals, and is prepared as follows: Cold water is first put in a jar,
and into it are thrown cooked rice, cooked camotes, cooked locusts,
and all sorts of cooked flesh and bones. The resulting liquid is drunk
at the end of ten days, and is sour and vinegar-like. The preparation
is perpetuated by adding more water and solid ingredients -- it does
not matter much what they are.
The odor of sa-fu-eng' is the worst stench in Bontoc. I never closely
investigated the beverage personally -- but I have no reason to doubt
what the Igorot says of it; but if all is true, why is it not fatal?
Throughout the year the pueblo of Mayinit produces salt from a number
of brackish hot springs occupying about an acre of ground at the
north end of the pueblo.
Mayinit has a population of about 1,000 souls, probably half of whom
are directly interested in salt production. It is probable that the
pueblo owes its location to the salt springs, although adjoining it
to the south is an arable valley now filled with rice sementeras,
which may first have drawn the people.
The hot springs slowly raise their water to the surface, where it
flows along in shallow streams. Over these streams, or rather sheets of
sluggish water, the Igorot have built 152 salt houses, usually about
12 feet wide and from 12 to 25 feet long. The houses, well shown in
Pl. CXV, are simply grass-covered roofs extending to the earth.
There is no ownership in the springs to-day -- just as there is no
ownership in springs which furnish irrigating water -- one owns the
water that passes into his salt house, but has no claim on that which
passes through it and flows out below. So each person has ownership of
all and only all the water he can use within his plant, and the people
claim there are no disputes between owners of houses -- as they look
at it, each owner of a salt house has an equal chance to gather salt.
The ground space of the salt house is closely paved with cobblestones
from 4 to 6 inches in diameter. The water passes among the bases of
these stones, and the salt is deposited in a thin crust over their
surface. (See Pl. CXVI.)
These houses are inherited, and, as a consequence, several persons
may ultimately have proprietary interest in one house. In such a case
the ground space is divided, often resulting in many twig-separated
patches, as is shown in fig. 7.
About once each month the salt is gathered. The women of the family
work naked in the stream-filled house, washing the crust of salt from
the stones into a large wooden trough, called "ko-long'-ko." Each
stone is thoroughly washed and then replaced in the pavement. The
saturated brine is preserved in a gourd until sufficient is gathered
Ground plan of Mayinit salt house.
Two or more families frequently join in evaporating their salt. The
brine is boiled in the large, shallow iron boilers, and from half a
day to a day is necessary to effect the evaporation. Evaporation is
discontinued when the salt is reduced to a thick paste.
The evaporated salt is spread in a half-inch layer on a piece of banana
leaf cut about 5 inches square. The leaf of paste is supported by two
sticks on, but free from, a piece of curved broken pottery which is
the baking pan. The salt thus prepared for baking is set near a fire
in the dwelling where it is baked thirty or forty minutes. It is then
ready for use at home or for commerce, and is preserved in the square,
flat cakes called "luk'-sa."
Analyses have been made of Mayinit salt as prepared by the crude
method of the Igorot. The showing is excellent when the processes
are considered, the finished salt having 86.02 per cent of sodium
chloride as against 90.68 per cent for Michigan common salt and 95.35
for Onondaga common salt.
Table of salt composition
Common fine --
One house produces from six to thirty cakes of salt at each baking. A
cake is valued at an equivalent of 5 cents, thus making an average
salt house, producing, say, fifteen cakes per month, worth 9 pesos
per year. Salt houses are seldom sold, but when they are they claim
they sell for only 3 or 4 pesos.
In October and November the Bontoc Igorot make sugar from cane. The
stalks are gathered, cut in lengths of about 20 inches, tied in bundles
a foot in diameter, and stored away until the time for expressing
The sugar-cane crusher, shown in Pl. CXVIII, consists of two sometimes
of three, vertical, solid, hard-wood cylinders set securely to revolve
in two horizontal timbers, which, in turn, are held in place by two
uprights. One of the cylinders projects above the upper horizontal
timber and has fitted over it, as a key, a long double-end sweep. This
main cylinder conveys its power to the others by means of wooden cogs
which are set firmly in the wood and play into sockets dug from the
other cylinder. Boys commonly furnish the power used to crush the cane,
and there is much song and sport during the hours of labor.
Two people, usually boys, sitting on both sides of the crusher, feed
the cane back and forth. Three or four stalks are put through at a
time, and they are run through thirty or forty times, or until they
break into pieces of pulp not over three or four inches in length.
The juice runs down a slide into a jar set in the ground beneath
The boiling is done in large shallow iron boilers over an
open fire under a roof. I have known the Igorot to operate the
crusher until midnight, and to boil down the juice throughout the
night. Sugar-boiling time is known as a-su-fal'-i-wis.
A delicious brown cake sugar is made, which, in some parts of the
area, is poured to cool and is preserved in bamboo tubes, in other
parts it is cooked and preserved in flat cakes an inch in thickness.
There is not much sugar made in the area, and a large part of the
product is purchased by the Ilokano. The Igorot cares very little for
sweets; even the children frequently throw away candy after tasting it.
Meals and mealtime
The man of the family arises about 3.30 or 4 o'clock in the morning. He
builds the fires and prepares to cook the family breakfast and the
food for the pigs. A labor generally performed each morning is the
paring of camotes. In about half an hour after the man arises the
camotes and rice are put over to cook. The daughters come home from
the olag, and the boys from their sleeping quarters shortly before
breakfast. Breakfast, called "mang-an'," meaning simply "to eat,"
is taken by all members of the family together, usually between 5 and
6 o'clock. For this meal all the family, sitting on their haunches,
gather around three or four wooden dishes filled with steaming hot food
setting on the earth. They eat almost exclusively from their hands,
and seldom drink anything at breakfast, but they usually drink water
after the meal.
The members of the family who are to work away from the dwelling
leave about 7 or 7.30 o'clock -- but earlier, if there is a rush of
work. If the times are busy in the fields, the laborers carry their
dinner with them; if not, all members assemble at the dwelling and
eat their dinner together about 1 o'clock. This midday meal is often
a cold meal, even when partaken in the house.
Field laborers return home about 6.30, at which time it is too dark
to work longer, but during the rush seasons of transplanting and
harvesting palay the Igorot generally works until 7 or 7.30 during
moonlight nights. All members of the family assemble for supper, and
this meal is always a warm one. It is generally cooked by the man,
unless there is a boy or girl in the family large enough to do it,
and who is not at work in the fields. It is usually eaten about 7 or
7.30 o'clock, on the earth floor, as is the breakfast. A light is used,
a bright, smoking blaze of the pitch pine. It burns on a flat stone
kept ready in every house -- it is certainly the first and crudest
house lamp, being removed in development only one infinitesimal step
from the Stationary fire. This light is also sometimes employed at
breakfast time, if the morning meal is earlier than the sun.
Usually by 8 o'clock the husband and wife retire for the night,
and the children leave home immediately after supper.
The human is the only beast of burden in the Bontoc area. Elsewhere
in northern Luzon the Christianized people employ horses, cattle,
and carabaos as pack animals. Along the coastwise roads cattle and
carabaos haul two-wheel carts, and in the unirrigated lowland rice
tracts these same animals drag sleds surmounted by large basket-work
receptacles for the palay. The Igorot has doubtless seen all of these
methods of animal transportation, but the conditions of his home are
such that he can not employ them.
He has no roads for wheels; neither carabaos, cattle, nor horses could
go among his irrigated sementeras; and he has relatively few loads of
produce coming in and going out of his pueblo. Such loads as he has
can be transported by himself with greater safety and speed than by
quadrupeds; and so, since he almost never moves his place of abode,
he has little need of animal transportation.
To an extent the river is employed to transport boards, timbers,
and firewood to both Bontoc and Samoki during the high water of the
rainy season. Probably one-fourth of the firewood is borne by the
river a part of its journey to the pueblos. But there is no effort
at comprehensive water transportation; there are no boats or rafts,
and the wood which does float down the river journeys in single pieces.
The characteristic of Bontoc transportation is that the men invariably
carry all their heavy loads on their shoulders, and the women as
uniformly transport theirs on their heads.
In Benguet all people carry on their backs, as also do the women of
the Quiangan area.
In all heavy transportation the Bontoc men carry the spear, using the
handle as a staff, or now and then as a support for the load; the women
frequently carry a stick for a staff. Man's common transportation
vehicle is the ki-ma'-ta, and in it he carries palay, camotes, and
manure. He swings along at a pace faster than the walk, carrying
from 75 to 100 pounds. He carries all firewood from the mountains,
directly on his bare shoulders. Large timbers for dwellings are borne
by two or more men directly on the shoulders; and timbers are now,
season of 1903, coming in for a schoolhouse carried by as many as
twenty-four men. Crosspieces, as yokes, are bound to the timbers with
bark lashings, and two or four men shoulder each yoke.
Rocks built into dams and dikes are carried directly on the bare
shoulders. Earth, carried to or from the building sementeras, in the
trails, or about the dwellings, is put first in the tak-o-chug', the
basket-work scoop, holding about 30 or 40 pounds of earth, and this
is carried by wooden handles lashed to both sides and is dumped into
a transportation basket, called "ko-chuk-kod'." This is invariably
hoisted to the shoulder when ready for transportation. When men carry
water the fang'-a or olla is placed directly on the shoulder as are
When the man is to be away from home over night he usually carries his
food and blanket, if he has one, in the waterproof fang'-ao slung on
his back and supported by a bejuco strap passing over each shoulder
and under the arm. This is the so-called "head basket," and, as a
matter of fact, is carried on war expeditions by those pueblos that
use it, though it is also employed in more peaceful occupations. As
a cargador the man carries his burdens on the shoulder in three ways
-- either double, the cargo on a pole between two men; or singly,
with the cargo divided and tied to both ends of the pole; or singly,
with the cargo laid directly on the shoulder.
Women carry as large burdens as do the men. They have two commonly
employed transportation baskets, neither of which have I seen a man
even so much as pick up. These are the shallow, pan-shaped lu'-wa
and the deeper, larger tay-ya-an'. In these two baskets, and also at
times in the man's ki-ma'-ta, the women carry the same things as are
borne by the men. Not infrequently the woman uses her two baskets
together at the same time -- the tay-ya-an' setting in the lu'-wa,
as is shown in Pls. CXIX and CXXI. When she carries the ki-ma'-ta she
places the middle of the connecting pole, the pal-tang on her head,
with one basket before her and the other behind. At all times the
woman wears on her head beneath her burden a small grass ring 5 or 6
inches in diameter, called a "ki'-kan." Its chief function is that of
a cushion, though when her burden is a fang'-a of water the ki'-kan
becomes also a base -- without which the round-bottomed olla could
not be balanced on her head without the support of her hands.
The woman's rain protector is often brought home from the camote
gardens bottom up on the woman's head full of camote vines as food
for the pigs, or with long, dry grass for their bedding. And, as has
been noted, all day long during April and May, when there were no
camote vines, women and little girls were going about bearing their
small scoop-shaped sug-fi' gathering wild vegetation for the hogs.
Almost all of the water used in Bontoc is carried from the river to the
pueblo, a distance ranging from a quarter to half a mile. The women
and girls of a dozen years or more probably transport three-fourths
of the water used about the house. It is carried in 4 to 6 gallon
ollas borne on the head of the woman or shoulder of the man. Women
totally blind, and many others nearly blind, are seen alone at the
river getting water.
About half the women and many of the men who go to the river daily
for water carry babes. Children from 1 to 4 years old are frequently
carried to and from the sementeras by their parents, and at all
times of the day men, women, and children carry babes about the
pueblo. They are commonly carried on the back, sitting in a blanket
which is slung over one shoulder, passing under the other, and tied
across the breast. Frequently the babe is shifted forward, sitting
astride the hip. At times, though rarely, it is carried in front of
the person. A frequent sight is that of a woman with a babe in the
blanket on her back and an older child astride her hip supported by
her encircling arm.
When one sees a woman returning from the river to the pueblo at
sundown a child on her back and a 6-gallon jar of water on her head,
and knows that she toiled ten or twelve hours that day in the field
with her back bent and her eyes on the earth like a quadruped, and
yet finds her strong and joyful, he believes in the future of the
mountain people of Luzon if they are guided wisely -- they have the
strength and courage to toil and the elasticity of mind and spirit
necessary for development.
The Bontoc Igorot has a keen instinct for a bargain, but his importance
as a comerciante has been small, since his wants are few and the
state of feud is such that he can not go far from home.
His bargain instinct is shown constantly. The American stranger is
charged from two to ten times the regular price for things he wishes
to buy. Early in April of the last two years the price of palay
for the American has, on a plea of scarcity, advanced 20 per cent,
although it has been proved that there is at all times enough palay
in the pueblo for three years' consumption.
Rather than spoil a possible high price of a product, outside pueblos
have left articles overnight with Bontoc friends to be sold to the
American next day at his own price, and when those pueblos came again
to vend similar wares the high prices were maintained.
Most commerce is carried on by barter. Within a pueblo naturally having
neither stores nor a legalized currency people trade among themselves,
but the word "barter" as here used means the systematic exchange of
the products of one community for those of another.
To note the articles produced for commerce by two or three pueblos will
give a fair illustration of the importance which interpueblo commerce
carried on entirely by barter has assumed among the Igorot. of the
Bontoc culture group, though the comerciante rarely remains from home
more than one night at a time.
The luwa, the woman's shallow transportation basket, is made by the
pueblo of Samoki only, and it is employed by fifteen or eighteen other
pueblos. Samoki also makes the akaug, or rice sieve, which is used
commonly in the vicinity. Bontoc and Samoki alone make the woman's
deeper transportation basket, the tayyaan, and it is used quite as
extensively as is the luwa.
The sleeping hat is made only by Bontoc and Samoki; it goes extensively
in commerce. The large winnowing tray employed universally by the
Igorot is said to be made nowhere in the vicinity except in Samoki and
Kamyu. Bontoc and Samoki alone make the man's dirt scoop, the takochug,
and it is invariably employed by all men laboring in the sementeras.
Neither Bontoc nor Samoki is within the zone of bejuco, from
which a considerable part of their basket work is made, and, as a
consequence, the raw material is bartered for from pueblos one or
two days distant. Barlig furnishes most of the bejuco. Every manojo
of Bontoc and Samoki palay is tied up at harvest time with a strip of
one variety of bamboo called "fika" made by the pueblos from sections
of bamboo brought in bundles from a day's journey westward to barter
during April and May. The rain hat of the Bontoc man is coated with
beeswax coming in trade from Barlig, as does also the clear and pure
resin used by the women of Samoki in glazing their pots.
Towns to the east of Bontoc, such as Tukukan, Sakasakan, and Tinglayan,
grow tobacco which passes westward in trade from town to town nearly,
if not quite, through the Province of Lepanto. It doubles its value
for about every day of its journey, or at each trading.
Samoki pottery and the salt of Mayinit offer as good illustrations as
there are of the Igorot barter. A dozen loads of earthenware, from
sixty to seventy-five pots, leave Samoki at one time destined for a
single pueblo (see Pl. CXXIII). The Samoki pot is made for a definite
trade. Titipan uses many of a certain kind for her commercial basi and
the potters say that they make pots somewhat different for about all
the two dozen pueblos supplied by them. The potter has learned the art
of catering to the trade. There is not only a variety of forms made
but the capacity of the fangas ranges from about one quart to ten and
twelve gallons, and each variety is made to satisfy a particular and
known demand. Samoki ware seldom passes as far east as Sakasakan, only
four or five hours distant, because similar ware is made in Bituagan,
which supplies not only Sakasakan but the pueblos farther up the river.
There are supposed to be between 280 and 290 families dwelling
in Bontoc, and, at a conservative estimate, each family has eight
fangas. Each dwelling of a widow has several, so it is a fair estimate
to say there are 300 dwellings in the pueblo, having a total of 2,400
fangas. Samoki has about 1,200 fangas in daily use. The estimated
population of the several towns that use Samoki pots is 24,000.
There is about one pot per individual in daily use in Bontoc and
Samoki, and this estimate is probably fair for the other pueblos. So
about 24,000 Samoki pots are daily in use, and this number is
maintained by the potters. Igorot claim the average life of a fanga
of Samoki is one year or less, so the pueblo must sell at least
24,000 pots per annum. At the average price of 5 centavos about the
equivalent of 1,200 pesos come to the pueblo annually from this art,
or about 40 pesos for each of the thirty potters, whether or not she
works at her art. A few years ago, during a severe state of feud,
Samoki pots increased in value about thirty-fold; it is said that the
potters purchased carabao for ten large ollas each. To-day the large
ollas are worth about 2 pesos, and carabaos are valued at from 40 to
Mayinit salt passes in barter to about as many pueblos as do the
Samoki pots, but while the pots go westward to the border of the
Bontoc culture area the salt passes far beyond the eastern border,
being bartered from pueblo to pueblo. It does not go far north of
Mayinit, or go at all regularly far west, because those pueblos within
access of the China Sea coast buy salt evaporated from sea water by
the Ilokano of Candon. In April at two different times twelve loads
of Candon salt passed eastward through Bontoc on the shoulders of
Tukukan men, but during the rainy season and the busy planting and
harvesting months Mayinit salt supplies a large demand.
In Bontoc and Samoki there are about one hundred and fifty gold
earrings which came from the gold-producing country about Suyak,
Lepanto Province. Carabaos are almost invariably traded for
these. Sometimes one carabao, sometimes two, and again three are
bartered for one gold earring. During the months of March and April
the pueblo of Balili traded three of these earrings to Bontoc men
for carabaos, and this particular form of barter has been carried on
Balili, Alap, Sadanga, Takong, Sagada, Titipan and other pueblos
between Bontoc pueblo and Lepanto Province to the west weave
breechcloths and skirts which are brought by their makers and disposed
of to Bontoc and adjacent pueblos. Agawa, Genugan, and Takong bring in
clay and metal pipes of their manufacture. Much of these productions
is bartered directly for palay. If money is paid for the articles it
is invariably turned into palay, because this is the greatest constant
need of manufacturing Igorot pueblos.
The Spaniard left his impress on the Igorot of Bontoc pueblo in no
realm probably more surely than in that of the appreciation of the
value of money.
The sale instinct, and not the barter instinct, is foremost now in
Bontoc and Samoki when an American is a party to a bargain, and
this is true in all pueblos on the main trail to Lepanto and the
west coast. But one has little difficulty in bartering for Igorot
productions if he has things the people want -- such as brass wire,
cloth for the woman's skirt, the man's breechcloth, a shirt, or
coat. In many pueblos the people try to buy for money the articles
the American brings in for barter, although it is true that barter
will often get from them many things which money can not buy. To
the northeast and south of Bontoc barter will purchase practically
The conditions of peace among the pueblos since the arrival of the
Americans and the money which is now everywhere within the area have
been the important factors in helping to develop interpueblo commerce
from barter to sale.
Most of the clothing worn in the pueblos of Lepanto Province is made
from cotton purchased for money at the coast. With few exceptions the
breechcloths and blankets worn by Bontoc and Samoki are purchased for
money, though it is not very many years since the bark breechcloth made
in Titipan and Barlig was worn, and in Tulubin, only two hours distant,
Barlig blankets and breechcloths of whole bark are worn to-day.
One week in April a Bontoc Igorot traded a carabao to an Ilokano of
Lepanto Province for a copper ganza, the customary way of purchasing
ganzas, and the following week another Bontoc man sold a carabao for
money to another Lepanto Ilokano.
The Baliwang battle-ax and spear are now more generally sold for
money than is any other production made or disposed of within the
Bontoc area. They are said to-day to be seldom bartered for.
Medium of exchange
That a people with such incipient social and political institutions
as has the Bontoc Igorot should have developed a "money" is
remarkable. The North American Indian with his strong tendency and
adaptability to political organization had no such money. Nothing
of the kind has been presented as belonging to the Australian of
ultrasocial development, and I am not aware that anything equal
has been produced by other similar primitive peoples. However,
it seems not improbable that allied tribes (say, of Malayan stock)
which have solved the problem of subsistence in a like way have a
similar currency, although I find no mention of it among four score
of writers whose observations on similar tribes of Borneo have come
to hand, and nothing similar has yet been found in the Philippines.
The Bontoc Igorot has a "medium of exchange" which gives a "measure
of exchange value" for articles bought and sold, and which has a
"standard of value." In other words he has "good money" probably the
best money that could have been devised by him for his society. It
is his staple product -- palay, the unthreshed rice.
Palay is at all times good money, and it is the thing commonly
employed in exchange. It answers every purpose of a suitable medium
of exchange. It is always in demand, since it is the staple food. It
is kept eight or ten years without deterioration. Except when used to
purchase clothing, it is seldom heavier or more difficult to transport
than is the object for which it is exchanged. It is of very stable
value, so much so that as a purchaser of Igorot labor and products
its value is constant; and it can not be counterfeited.
Aside from this universal medium of exchange the characteristic
production of each community, in a minor way, answers for the community
the needs of a medium of exchange.
Samoki buys many things with her pots, such as tobacco and salt
from Mayinit; cloth from Igorot comerciantes, breechcloth and basi
from the Igorot producers; chickens, pigs, palay, and camotes from
neighboring pueblos. Mayinit uses her salt in much the same way,
only probably to a less extent. Salt is not consumed by all the people.
To-day, as formerly, the live pig and hog and pieces of pork and
carabao meat are used a great deal in barter. As far back as the
pueblo memory extends pigs have been used to purchase a particularly
good breechcloth called "balakes," made in Balangao, three days east
In all sales the medium of exchange is entirely in coin. Paper will not
be received by the Igorot. The peso (the Spanish and Mexican silver
dollar) passes in the area at the rate of two to one with American
money. There is also the silver half peso, the peseta or one-fifth
peso, and the half peseta. The latter two are not plentiful. The only
other coin is the copper "sipen."
No centavos (cents) reach the districts of Lepanto and Bontoc from
Manila, and for years the Igorot of the copper region of Suyak and
Mankayan, Lepanto, have manufactured a counterfeit copper coin
called "sipen." All the half-dozen copper coins current in the
active commercial districts of the Islands are here counterfeited,
and the "sipen" passes at the high rate of 80 per peso; it is common
and indispensable. A crude die is made in clay, and has to be made
anew for each "sipen" coined. The counterfeit passes throughout
the area, but in Tinglayan, just beyond its eastern border, it is
not known. Within two days farther east small coins are unknown,
the peso being the only money value in common knowledge.
Measure of exchange value
The Igorot has as clear a conception of the relative value of two
things bartered as has the civilized man when he buys or sells for
money. The value of all things, from a 5-cent block of Mayinit salt
to a P70 carabao, is measured in palay. To-day, as formerly, every
bargain between two Igorot is made on the basis of the palay value
of the articles bought or sold. This is so even though the payment
is in money.
Standard of value
The standard of value of the palay currency is the sin fing-e' --
the Spanish "manojo," or handful -- a small bunch of palay tied up
immediately below the fruit heads. It is about one foot long, half head
and half straw. The value of such a standard is not entirely uniform,
and yet there is a great uniformity in the size of the sin fing-e',
and all values are satisfactorily taken from it.
An elaborate palay currency has been evolved from the standard,
of which the following are the denominations:
Number of handfuls
Pu'-ak or gu'-tad
Sin fu tek'
Sin fu-tek' pu'-ak
Commerce passes quite commonly within the Bontoc culture area from
one pueblo to the next, and even to the second and third pueblos if
they are friends; but the general direction is along the main river
(the Chico), southwest and northeast, since here the people cling. This
being the case, those living to the south and north of this line have
much less commerce than those along the river route. For instance,
practically no people now pass through Ambawan, southeast of Bontoc. It
is the last pueblo in the area along the old Spanish calzada between
the culture areas of Bontoc and Quiangan to the south. No people live
farther southward along the route for nearly a day, and the first
pueblos met are enemies of Ambawan, fearful and feared. The only
commerce between the two culture areas over this route passes when a
detachment of native Constabulary soldiers makes the journey. Naturally
the area traversed by a comerciante is limited by the existing
feuds. The trader will not go among enemies without escort.
Besides the general trade route up and down the river, there is one
between Bontoc and Barlig to the east via Kanyu and Tulubin. At Barlig
the trail splits, one branch running farther eastward through Lias
and Balangao and the other going southward through the Cambulo area
-- a large valley of people said to be similar in culture to those
Another route from Bontoc leaves the main trail at Titipan and joins
the pueblos of Tunnolang, Fidelisan, and Agawa in a general southwest
direction. From Agawa the trail crosses the mountains, keeping its
general southwest course. It turns westward at the Rio Balasian,
which it follows to Ankiling on the Rio del Abra. The route is then
along the main road to Candon on the coast via Salcedo.
Mayinit, the salt-producing pueblo, has her outlet on the main
trail via Bontoc, but she also passes eastward to the main trail at
Sakasakan, going through Baliwang, the battle-ax pueblo. She has no
outlet to the north.
Trade languages and traders
Since the commerce is to-day nearly all interpueblo, the common
language of the Igorot is used almost exclusively in trade. While
the Spaniards were occupying the country, Chinamen -- the "Chino"
of the Islands -- passed up from the coast as far as Bontoc, and even
farther; the Ilokano also came. They brought much of the iron now in
the country, and also came with brass wire, cloth, cotton, gangsas,
and salt. These two classes of traders took out, in the main, the
money and carabaos of the Igorot, and the Spaniard's coffee, cocoa,
and money. To-day no comerciante from the coast dares venture farther
inland than Sagada. Of the tradesmen the Chinese did not apparently
affect the trade language at all, since the Chino commonly employs
the Ilokano language. The Spanish gave the words of salutation, as
"Buenos dias" (good day) and "a Dios" (adieu); he also gave some
of the names of coins. The peso, the silver dollar, is commonly
called "peho." However, the medio peso is known as "thalepi," from
the Ilokano "salepi." The peseta is called "peseta;" and the media
peseta is known as "dies ay seis" (ten and six), or, simply, "seis"
-- it is from the Spanish, meaning sixteen quartos.
The Ilokano language was the more readily adopted, since it is of
Malayan origin, and is heard west of the Igorot with increasing
frequency until its home is reached on the coast. Among the Ilokano
words common in the language of commerce are the following:
Ma'-no, how much; a-sin', salt; ba'-ag, breechcloth; bu-ya'-ang, black;
con-di'-man, red; fan-cha'-la, blanket, white, with end stripes;
pas-li-o', Chinese bar iron from which axes, spears, and bolos are
made; ba-rot', brass wire; pi-nag-pa'-gan, a woman's blanket of
An Americanism used commonly in commercial transactions in the area,
and also widely in northern Luzon, is "no got." It is an expression
here to stay, and its simplicity as a vocalization has had much to
do with its adoption.
Stages of commerce
The commerce of the Igorot illustrates what seems to be the first
distinctively commercial activity. Preceding it is the stage of barter
between people who casually meet and who trade carried possessions
on the whim of the moment. If we wish to dignify this kind of barter,
it may properly be called "Fortuitous Commerce."
The next stage, one of the two illustrated by the Igorot of the
Bontoc culture area, is that in which commodities are produced
before a widespread or urgent demand exists for them in the minds
of those who eventually become consumers through commerce. Such
commodities result largely from a local demand and a local supply of
raw materials. Gradually they spread over a widening area, carried
by their producers whose home demand is, for the time, supplied, and
who desire some commodity to be obtained among another people. Such
venders never or rarely go alone to exchange their goods, which,
also, are seldom produced by simply one person, but by a number of
individuals or a considerable group. The motive prompting this commerce
is the desire on the part of the trader to obtain the commodity for
which he goes. In order to obtain it in honor, he attempts to thrust
his own productions on the others by carrying his commodities among
them. Commerce in this stage may be called "Irregular Intrusive
Commerce." It also has its birth and development in barter.
A higher stage of commerce, an immediate outgrowth of the preceding,
is that in which the producer anticipates a known demand for
his commodity, and at irregular times carries his stock to the
consumers. This commerce may be called "Irregular Invited Commerce." It
is in this stage that a medium of exchange is likely to develop. This
class of commerce is also in full operation in Bontoc to-day.
A higher form is that in which the producer keeps a supply of his
commodity on hand. and periodically displays it repeatedly in a known
place -- a "market." This stage also may be developed simply through
barter, as is seen among certain pueblo Indians of southwestern United
States, but the Bontoc man has not begun to dream of a "market" for
satisfying his material wants. Such commerce may be called "Periodic
Free Commerce." It is widespread in the Philippines, displaying both
barter and sale. In many places in the Archipelago to-day, especially
in Mindanao, periodic commerce is carried on regularly on neutral
territory. Market places are selected where products are put down
by one party which then retires temporarily, and are taken up by the
other party which comes and leaves its own productions in exchange.
Growing out of these monthly, semimonthly, weekly, biweekly, and
triweekly markets, as one sees them in the Philippines, is a still
higher form of commerce carried on very largely by sale, but not
entirely so. It may be called "Continual Free Commerce."
The idea of property right among the Igorot is clear. The recognition
of property right is universal, and is seldom disputed, notwithstanding
the fact that the right of ownership rests simply in the memory
of the people -- the only property mark being the ear slit of the
The majority of property disputes which have come to light since
the Americans have been in Bontoc probably would not have occurred
nor would the occasion for them have existed in a society of Igorot
control. It is claimed in Bontoc that the Spaniard there settled most
disputes which came to him in favor of the party who would pay the
most money. In this way, it is said, the rich became the richer at the
expense of the poor. This condition is suggested by recent RECLAMOS
made by poor people. Again, since the American heard the RECLAMOS
of all classes of people, the poor who, according to Igorot custom,
forfeited sementeras to those richer as a penalty for stealing palay,
have come to dispute the ownership of certain real property.
Personal property of individual
Most articles of personal property are individual. Such property
consists of clothing, ornaments, implements, and utensils of
out-of-door labor, the weapons of warfare, and such chickens, dogs,
hogs, carabaos, food stuffs, and money as the person may have at the
time of marriage or may inherit later.
Four of the richest men of Bontoc own fifty carabaos each, and one of
them owns thirty hogs. Two other men and a woman, all called equally
rich, own ten head of carabaos each. Others have fewer, while two of
the ten richest men in the pueblo, have no carabaos. Some of these men
have eight granaries, holding from two to three hundred cargoes each,
now full of palay. Carabaos are at present valued in Bontoc at about
50 pesos, and hogs average about 8 pesos. All rich people own one or
more gold earrings valued at from one to two carabaos each.
The so-called richest man in Bontoc, Lak-ay'-eng, has the following
visible personal property:
Value in peso
Fifty carabaos, at 50 pesos each
Thirty hogs, at 8 pesos each
Eight full granaries, with 250 1-peso cargoes
Eight earrings, at 75 pesos each
Coin from sale of palay, hogs, etc.
The above figures are estimates; it is impossible to make them
exact, but they were obtained with much care and are believed to be
sufficiently accurate to be of value.
Personal property of group
All household implements and utensils and all money, food stuffs,
chickens, dogs, hogs, and carabaos accumulated by a married couple
are the joint property of the two.
Such personal property as hogs and carabaos are frequently owned by
individuals of different families. It is common for three or four
persons to buy a carabao, and even ten have become joint owners of
one animal through purchase. Through inheritance two or more people
become joint owners of single carabao, and of small herds which they
prefer to own in common, pending such an increase that the herd may
be divided equally without slaughtering an animal. Until recent years
two, three, and even four or five men jointly owned one battle-ax.
As the Igorot acquires more money, or, as the articles desired become
relatively cheaper, personal property of the group (outside the family
group) is giving way to personal property of the individual. The
extinction of this kind of property is logical and is approaching.
Real property of individual
The individual owns dwelling houses, granaries, camote lands about
the dwellings and in the mountains, millet and maize lands. in the
mountains, irrigated rice lands, and mountain lands with forests. In
fact, the individual may own all forms of real property known to
It is largely by the possession or nonpossession of real property
that a man is considered rich or poor. This fact is due to the more
apparent and tangible form of real than personal property. The ten
richest people in Bontoc, nine men and a woman, own, it is said,
in round numbers one hundred sementeras each. The average value
of a sementera is 10 pesos for every cargo of palay it produces
annually. A sementera producing 10 cargoes is rated a very good one,
and yet there are those yielding 20, 25, 30, and even 40 cargoes.
It is practically impossible to get the truth concerning the value of
the personal or real property of the Igorot in Bontoc, because they
are not yet sure the American will not presently tax them unjustly,
as they say the Spaniard did. But the following figures are believed
to be true in every particular. Mang-i-lot', an old man whose ten
children are all dead, and who says his property is no longer of
value because he has no children with whom to leave it, is believed
to have spoken truthfully when he said he has the following sementeras
in the five following geographic areas surrounding the pueblo:
Number of sementeras
Number of cargoes produced
These sementeras produce the low average of 3 1/3 cargoes. The
average value of Mang-i-lot's' sementeras, then, is 33 1/3 pesos --
which is thought to be a conservative estimate of the value of the
Bontoc sementera. Mang-i-lot' is rated among the lesser rich men. He
is relatively, as the American says, "well-to-do." However, when a
man possesses twenty sementeras he is considered rich.
The richest man in Bontoc, with one hundred sementeras, has in them,
say, 3,330 pesos worth of real property in addition to his 6,340
pesos of personal property.
It is claimed that each household owns its dwelling and at least two
sementeras and one granary, though a man with no more property than
this is a poor man and some one in his family must work much of the
time for wages, because two average sementeras will not furnish all
the rice needed by a family for food.
A dwelling house is valued at about 60 pesos, which is less than it
usually costs to build, and a granary is valued at about 10 or 15
pesos. It is constructed with great care, is valueless unless rodent
proof, and costs much more than its avowed valuation.
Title to all buildings, building lands in the pueblo, and irrigated
rice lands is recognized for at least two generations, though
unoccupied during that time. They say the right to such unoccupied
property would be recognized perpetually if there were heirs. At
least it is true that there are now acres of unused lands, once
palay sementeras, which have not been cultivated for two generations
because water can not be run to them, and the property right of the
grandsons of the men who last cultivated them is recognized. However,
if one leaves vacant any unirrigated agricultural mountain lands --
used for millet, maize, or beans -- another person may claim and
plant them in one year's time, and no one disputes his title.
Real property of group
All real property accumulated by a man and woman in marriage is their
joint property as long as both live and remain in union.
No form of real property, except forests, can be the joint property
of other individuals than man and wife. Forests are most commonly the
property of a considerable group of people -- the descendants of a
single ancestral owner. The lands as well as the trees are owned, and
the sale of trees carries no right to the land on which they grow. It
is impossible even to estimate the value of any one's forest property,
but it is true that persons are recognized as rich or poor in forests.
Public lands and forests extend in an irregular strip around most
pueblos. There is no public forest, or even public lands, between
Bontoc and Samoki, but Bontoc has access to the forests lying beyond
her sister pueblo. Neither is there public forest, or any forest,
between Bontoc and Tukukan, and Bontoc and Titipan, though there
are public lands. In all other directions from Bontoc public forests
surround the outlying private forests. They are usually from three
to six hours distant. From them any man gathers what he pleases, but
until the American came to Bontoc the Igorot seldom went that far for
wood or lumber, as it was unsafe. Now, however, the individual will
doubtless claim these lands, unless hindered by the Government. In
this manner real property was first accumulated -- a man claimed
public lands and forests which he cared for and dared to appropriate
and use. There have been few irrigated sementeras built on new water
supplies in two generations by people of Bontoc pueblo. The "era of
public lands" for Bontoc has practically passed; there is no more
undiscovered water. However, three new sementeras were built this year
on an island in the river near the pueblo, and are now (May, 1903) full
of splendid palay, but they can not be considered permanent property,
as an excessively rainy season will make them unfit for cultivation.
Sale of property
Personal property commonly passes by transfer for value received from
one party to another. Such a thing as transfer of real property from
one Igorot to another for legal currency is unknown; the transfer is
by barter. The transfer of personal property was considered in the
preceding section on commerce.
Real property is seldom transferred for value received except at the
death of the owner or a member of the family; at such times it is
common, and occurs from the necessity of quantities of food for the
burial feasts and the urgent need of blankets and other clothing for
Again, camote lands about the dwellings are disposed of to those
who may want to build a dwelling. Dwellings are also disposed of if
the original occupant is to vacate and some other person desires to
possess the buildings.
Death may destroy one's personal property, such as hogs and
carabaos, but almost never does an Igorot "lose his property," if
it is real. Only a protracted family sickness or a series of deaths
requiring the killing of great numbers of chickens, hogs, and carabaos,
and the purchase of many things necessary for interment can lose to
a person real property of any considerable value.
There is no formality to a "sale" of property, nor are witnesses
employed. It is common knowledge within the ato when a sale is on,
and the old men shortly know of and talk about the transaction --
thenceforth it is on record and will stand.
Rent, loan, and lease of property
Until recent years, long after the Spaniards came, it was customary
to loan money and other forms of personal property without interest
or other charge. This generous custom still prevails among most of
the people, but some rich men now charge an interest on money loaned
for one or more years. Actual cases show the rate to be about 6 or 7
per cent. The custom of loaning for interest was gained from contact
with the Lepanto Igorot, who received it from the Ilokano.
It is claimed that dwellings and granaries are never rented.
Irrigated rice lands are commonly leased. Such method of cultivation
is resorted to by the rich who have more sementeras than they can
superintend. The lessee receives one-half of the palay harvested,
and his share is delivered to him. The lessor furnishes all seed,
fertilizers, and labor. He delivers the lessee's share of the harvest
and retains the other half himself, together with the entire camote
crop -- which is invariably grown immediately after the palay harvest.
Unirrigated mountain camote lands are rented outright; the rent is
usually paid in pigs. A sementera that produces a yield of 10 cargoes
of camotes, valued at about six pesos, is worth a 2-peso pig as annual
rental. In larger sementeras a proportional rental is charged -- a
rental of about 33 1/3 per cent. All rents are paid after the crops
Inheritance and bequest
As regards property the statement that all men are born equal is as
false in Igorot land as in the United States. The economic status of
the present generation and the preceding one was practically determined
for each man before he was born. It is fair to make the statement that
the rich of the present generation had rich grandparents and the poor
had poor grandparents, although it is true that a large property is
now and then lost sight of in its division among numerous children.
Children before their marriage receive little permanent property
during the lives of their parents, and they retain none which they
may accumulate themselves. A mother sometimes gives her daughter
the hair dress of white and agate beads, called "apong;" also she
may give a mature daughter her peculiar and rare girdle, called
"akosan." Either parent may give a child a gold earring; I know of
but one such case. This custom of not allowing an unmarried child to
possess permanent property is so rigid that, I am told, an unmarried
son or daughter seldom receives carabaos or sementeras until the
death of the parents, no matter how old the child may be.
At the time of marriage parents give their children considerable
property, if they have it, giving even one-half the sementeras they
possess. If parents are no longer able to cultivate their lands when
their children marry, they usually give them all they have, and their
wants are faithfully met by the children.
The conditions presented above are practically the only ones in which
the property owner controls the disposition of his possessions which
pass in gift to kin.
The laws of inheritance and bequest are as firmly fixed as are the
customs of giving and not giving during life.
Since all the property of a husband and wife is individual, except
that accumulated by the joint efforts of the two during union, the
property of each is divided on death. The survivor of a matrimonial
union receives no share of the individual property of the deceased
if there are kin. It goes first to the children or grandchildren. If
there are none and a parent survives, it goes to the parent. If there
are neither children, grandchildren, nor parents it goes to brothers
and sisters or their children. If there are none of these relatives
the property goes to the uncles and aunts or cousins. This seems to
be the extent of the kinship recognized by the Igorot. If there are
no relatives the property passes to the survivor of the union. If
there is no survivor the property passes to that friend who takes up
the responsibilities of the funeral and accompanying ceremonies. The
law of inheritance, then, is as follows: First, lineal descendants;
second, ascendants; third, lateral descendants; fourth, surviving
spouse; fifth, self-appointed executor who was a personal friend of
Primogeniture is recognized, and the oldest living child, whether
male or female, inherits slightly more than any of the others. For
instance, if there were three or four or five sementeras per child,
the eldest would receive one more than the others.
This law of primogeniture holds at all times, but if there are three
boys and one girl the girl is given about the same advantage over
the others, it is said, as though she were the eldest. If there are
three girls and only one boy, no consideration is taken of sex. When
there are only two children the eldest receives the largest or best
sementera, but he must also take the smallest or poorest one.
It is said that division of the property of the deceased occurs during
the days of the funeral ceremonies. This was done on the third day
of the ceremonies at the funeral of old Som-kad', mentioned in the
section on "Death and Burial?" The laws are rigid, and all that is
necessary to be done is for the lawful inheritors to decide which
particular property becomes the possession of each. This is neither
so difficult nor so conducive of friction as might seem, since the
property is very undiversified.
Tribute, tax, and "rake off"
There is no true systematic tribute, tax, or "rake off" among
the Bontoc Igorot, nor am I aware that such occurs at all commonly
sporadically. However, tribute, tax, and "rake off" are all found in
pure Malayan culture in the Archipelago, as among the Moros of the
Tribute may be paid more or less regularly by one group of people
to a stronger, or to one in a position to harass and annoy -- for
the protection of the stronger, or in acknowledgment of submission,
or to avoid harassment or annoyance. Nothing of the sort exists in
Bontoc. The nearest approach to it is the exchange of property,
as carabaos or hogs, between two pueblos at the time a peace is
made between them -- at which time the one sueing for peace makes
by far the larger payment, the other payment being mere form. This
transaction, as it occurs in Bontoc, is a recognition of submission
and of inferiority, and is, as well, a guarantee of a certain amount of
protection. However, such payments are not made at all regularly and do
not stand as true tributes, though in time they might grow to be such.
Nothing in the nature of a tax for the purpose of supporting a
government exists in Bontoc. The nearest approach to it is in a
practice which grew up in Spanish time but is of Igorot origin. When
to-day cargadors are required by Americans, as when Government supplies
must be brought in, the members of each cargador's ato furnish him
food for the journey, though the cargador personally receives and
keeps the wage for the trip. The furnishing of food seems to spring
from the feeling that the man who goes on the journey is the public
servant of those who remain -- he is doing an unpleasant duty for his
ato fellows. If this were carried one step further, if the rice were
raised and paid for carrying on some regular function of the Igorot
pueblo, it would be a true tax. It may be true, and probably is, in
pure Igorot society that if men were sent by an ato on some mission
for that ato they would receive support while gone. This would readily
develop into a true tax if those public duties were to be performed
continually, or even frequently with regularity.
"Rake off," or, as it is known in the Orient, "squeeze," is so common
that every one -- Malay, Chino, Japanese, European, and American --
expects his money to be "squeezed" if it passes through another's
hands or another is instrumental in making a bargain for him. In
much of the Igorot territory surrounding the Bontoc area "rake off"
occurs -- it follows the advent of the "headman." It is one of the
direct causes why, in Igorot society, the headman is almost always
a rich man. During the hunting stage of human development no "rich
man" can come up, as is illustrated by the primitive hunter folk of
North America. As soon, however, as there are productions which may
be traded in, there is a chance for one man to take advantage of his
fellows and accumulate a part of their productions -- this opportunity
occurs among primitive agricultural people. The Bontoc area, however,
has no "headman," no "rich man," and, consequently, no "rake off."
Political Life and Control
It is impossible to put one's hand on any one man or any one group
of men in Bontoc pueblo of whom it may be said, "Here is the control
element of the pueblo."
Nowhere has the Malayan attained national organization. He is known
in the Philippines as a "provincial," but in most districts he is
not even that. The Bontoc Igorot has not even a clan organization,
to say nothing of a tribal organization. I fail to find a trace of
matriarchy or patriarchy, or any mark of a kinship group which traces
relationship farther than first cousins.
The Spaniard created a "presidente" and a "vice-presidente" for the
various pueblos he sought to control, but these men, as often Ilokano
as Igorot, were the avenue of Spanish approach to the natives --
they were almost never the natives' mouthpiece. The influence of
such officials was not at all of the nature to create or foster the
feeling of political unity.
Aside from these two pueblo officers the government and control
of the pueblo is purely aboriginal. Each ato, of which, as has
been noted, there are seventeen, has its group of old men called
"in-tug-tu'-kan." This in-tug-tu'-kan is not an organization,
except that it is intended to be perpetual, and, in a measure,
self-perpetuating. It is a thoroughly democratic group of men, since
it is composed of all the old men in the ato, no matter how wise or
foolish, rich or poor -- no matter what the man's social standing may
be. Again, it is democratic -- the simplest democracy -- in that is
has no elective organization, no headmen, no superiors or inferiors
whose status in the in-tug-tu'-kan is determined by the members of the
group. The feature of self-perpetuation displays itself in that it
decides when the various men of the ato become am-a'-ma, "old men,"
and therefore members of the in-tug-tu'-kan. A person is told some
day to come and counsel with the in-tug-tu'-kan, and thenceforth he
is a member of the group.
In all matters with which the in-tug-tu'-kan deals it is supreme
in its ato, but in the ato only; hence the opening statement of
the chapter that no man or group of men holds the control of the
pueblo. The life of the several ato has been so similar for such
a number of generations that, in matters of general interest, the
thoughts of one in-tug-tu'-kan will be practically those of all
others. For instance, there are eight ceremonial occasions on which
the entire pueblo rests from agricultural labors, simply because each
ato observes the same ceremonials on identical days. In one of these
ceremonials, all the men of the entire pueblo have a rock contest
with all the men of Samoki. Again, when a person of the pueblo has
been killed by another pueblo treacherously or in ambush, or in any
way except by fair fight, the pueblo as a unit hastens to avenge the
death on the pueblo of the slayer.
In such matters as these -- matters of common defense and offense,
matters of religion wherein food supply is concerned -- custom has
long since crystallized into an act of democratic unity what may
once have been the result of the councils of all the in-tug-tu'-kan
of the pueblo. It is customary for an ato to rest from agricultural
labor on the funeral day of any adult man, but the entire pueblo thus
seeks to honor at his death the man who was old and influential.
There is little differentiation of the functions of the
in-tug-tu'-kan. It hears, reviews, and judges the individual
disagreements of the members of the ato and makes laws by determining
custom. It also executes its judgments or sees that they are
executed. It makes treaties of peace, sends and accepts or rejects
challenges of war for its ato. In case of interato disagreements
of individuals the two in-tug-tu'-kan meet and counsel together,
representing the interests of the persons of their ato. In other
words, the pueblo is a federation made up of seventeen geographical
and political units, in each of which the members recognize that their
sanest, ripest wisdom dwells with the men who have had the longest
experience in life; and the group of old men -- sometimes only one man
and sometimes a dozen -- is known as in-tug-tu'-kan, and its wisdom is
respected to the degree that it is regularly sought and is accepted
as final judgment, being seldom ignored or dishonored. In matters of
a common interest the pueblo customarily acts as a unit. Probably
could it not so act, factions would result causing separation from
the federation. This state of things is hinted as one of the causes
why the ancestors of present Samoki separated from the pueblo of
Bontoc. The fact that they did separate is common knowledge, and
a cause frequently assigned is lack of space to develop. However,
there may have been disagreement.
Crimes, detection and punishment
Theft, lying to shield oneself in some criminal act, assault and
battery, adultery, and murder are the chief crimes against Igorot
There are tests to determine which of several suspects is guilty of
a crime. One of these is the rice-chewing test. The old men of the
ato interested assemble, in whose presence each suspect is made to
chew a mouthful of raw rice, which, when it is thoroughly masticated,
is ejected on to a dish. Each mouthful is examined, and the person
whose rice is the driest is considered guilty. It is believed that
the guilty one will be most nervous during the trial, thus checking
a normal flow of saliva.
Another is a hot-water test. An egg is placed in an olla of boiling
water, and each suspect is obliged to pick it out with his hand. When
the guilty man draws out the egg the hot water leaps up and burns
There is an egg test said to be the surest one of all. A battle-ax
blade is held at an angle of about 60 degrees, and an egg is placed
at the top in a position to slide down. Just before the egg is freed
from the hand the question is asked "Is Liod (the name of the man
under trial) guilty?" If the egg slides down the blade to the bottom
the man named is innocent but if it sticks on the ax he is guilty.
There is also a blood test employed in Bontoc pueblo, and also to
the west, extending, it is said, into Lepanto Province. An instrument
consisting of a sharp spike of iron projecting about one-sixteenth of
an inch from a handle with broad shoulders is placed against the scalp
of the suspects and the handle struck a sharp blow. The projecting
shoulder is supposed to prevent the spike from entering the scalp
of one farther than that of another. The person who bleeds most is
considered guilty -- he is "hot headed."
I was once present at an Igorot trial when the question to be decided
was whether a certain man or a certain woman had lied. The old men
examined and cross-questioned both parties for fully a quarter of an
hour, at which time they announced that the woman was the liar. Then
they brought a test to bear evidence in binding their decision. They
killed a chicken and cut it open. The gall was found to be almost
entirely exposed on the liver -- clearly the woman had lied. She looked
at the all-knowing gall and nodded her acceptance of the verdict. If
the gall had been hidden by the upper lobe of the liver, the verdict
would not have been sustained.
If a person steals palay, the injured party may take a sementera from
If a man is found stealing pine wood from the forest lands of another,
he forfeits not only all the wood he has cut but also his working ax.
The penalty for the above two crimes is common knowledge, and if the
crime is proved there is no longer need for the old men to make a
decision -- the offended party takes the customary retributive action
against the offender.
Cases of assault and battery frequently occur. The chief causes are
lovers' jealousies, theft of irrigating water during a period of
drought, and dissatisfaction between the heirs of a property at or
shortly following the time of inheritance.
It is customary for the old men of the interested ato to consider all
except common offenses unless the parties settle their differences
A fine of chickens, pigs, sementeras, sometimes even of carabaos,
is the usual penalty for assault and battery.
Adultery is not a common crime. I was unable to learn that the
punishment for adultery was ever the subject for a council of the old
men. It seems rather that the punishment -- death of the offenders
-- is always administered naturally, being prompted by shocked and
turbulent emotions rather than by a council of the wise men. In
Igorot society the spouse of either criminal may take the lives
of both the guilty if they are apprehended in the crime. To-day
the group consciousness of the penalty for adultery is so firmly
fixed that adulterers are slain, not necessarily on the spur of
the moment of a suspected crime but sometimes after carefully laid
plans for detection. A case in question occurred in Suyak of Lepanto
Province. A man knew that his faithless wife went habitually at dusk
with another man to a secluded spot under a fallen tree. One evening
the husband preceded them, and lay down with his spear on the tree
trunk. When the guilty people arrived he killed them both in their
crime, thrusting his spear through them and pinning them to the earth.
Among a primitive people whose warfare consists much in ambushing and
murdering a lone person it is not always possible to predict whether
the taking of human life will be considered a criminal act or an act
of legitimate warfare.
It is considered warfare by the group of the murdered person, and as
such to be met by return warfare unless the group of the murderer is
a friendly one and at once comes to the offended people to sue for
continued peace. This applies to political groups within a pueblo as
well as to the people of distinct pueblos.
When murder is considered simply as a crime, its punishment may be
one of two classes: First, the murderer may lose his life at the
hands of his own group; second, the crime may be compounded for the
equivalent of the guilty man's property. In this case the settlement
is between the guilty person and the political group of the victim,
and the value of the compound is consumed by feastings of the group. No
part of the price is paid the family of the deceased as a compensation
for the loss of his labor and other assistance.
The three following specific cases of misdemeanors will illustrate
somewhat, more fully the nature of differences which arise between
individuals in pure Igorot society:
In Samoki early in November, 1902, Bisbay pawned an iron pot --
a sugar boiler -- to Yagao for 4 pesos. In about two months, when
sugar season was on, Bisbay went to redeem his property, but Yagao
would neither receive the money nor give up the boiler. The old men
of the ato counseled together over the matter, and, as a result,
Yagao received the 4 pesos and returned the pot, and the matter was
thus amicably settled between the two.
Early in January, 1903, Mowigas, of the pueblo of Ganang, cut and
destroyed the grasshopper basket of Dadaag, of the pueblo of Mayinit,
and also slightly cut Dadaag with his ax, but did not attempt to kill
him. The cause of the assault was this: Mowigas had killed a chicken
and was having a ceremonial in his house at the time Dadaag passed
with his basket of grasshoppers. According to Igorot custom he should
not have taken grasshoppers past a house in which such a ceremony was
being performed. The breach made it necessary to hold another ceremony,
killing another chicken. Old men from Mayinit, the pueblo of Dadaag,
came to Ganang and told Mowigas he would have to pay 3 pesos for his
conduct, or Mayinit would come over and destroy the town. He paid the
money, whereas the basket was worth only one-sixth the price. Trouble
was thus averted, and the individuals reconciled. In this case the
two pueblos are friends, but Mayinit is much stronger than Ganang,
and evidently took advantage of the fact.
In January, 1903, a woman and her son, of Titipan, stole camotes of
another Titipan family. The old men of the two ato of the interested
families fined the thieves a hog. The fine was paid, and the hog
eaten by the old men of the two ato.
Very often the fine paid by the offender passes promptly down the
throats of the jury. However, it is the only compensation for their
services in keeping the peace of the pueblo, so they look upon it as
their rightful share -- it is the "lawyer's share" with a vengeance.
War and Head-Hunting
En-fa-lok'-net is the Bontoc word for war, but the expression
"na-ma'-ka" -- take heads -- is used interchangeably with it.
For unknown generations these people have been fierce
head-hunters. Nine-tenths of the men in the pueblos of Bontoc and
Samoki wear on the breast the indelible tattoo emblem which proclaims
them takers of human heads. The fawi of each ato in Bontoc has its
basket containing skulls of human heads taken by members of the ato.
There are several different classes of head-hunters among primitive
Malayan peoples, but the continuation of the entire practice is
believed to be due to the so-called "debt of life" -- that is, each
group of people losing a head is in duty and honor bound to cancel
the score by securing a head from the offenders. In this way the
score is never ended or canceled, since one or the other group is
always in debt.
It seems not improbable that the heads may have been cut off first
as the best way of making sure that a fallen enemy was certainly
slain. The head was at all events the best proof to a man's tribesmen
of the discharge of the debt of life; it was the trophy of success
in defeating the foe. Whatever the cause of taking the head may have
been with the first people, it would surely spread to others of a
similar culture who warred with a head-taking tribe, as they would
wish to appear as cruel, fierce, and courageous as the enemy.
Henry Ling Roth quotes Sir Spencer St. John as follows concerning
the Seribas Dyaks of Borneo (p. 142):
A certain influential man denied that head-hunting is a religious
ceremony among them. It is merely to show their bravery and manliness,
that it may be said that so-and-so has obtained heads. When they
quarrel it is a constant phrase, "How many heads did your father or
grandfather get?" If less than his own number, "Well, then, you have
no occasion to be proud!" Thus the possession of heads gives them
great considerations as warriors and men of wealth, the skulls being
prized as the most valuable of goods.
Again he quotes St. John (p. 143):
Feasts in general are: To make their rice grow well, to cause the
forest to abound with wild animals, to enable their dogs and snares
to be successful in securing game, to have the streams swarm with
fish, to give health and activity to the people themselves, and to
insure fertility to their women. All these blessings the possessing
and feasting of a fresh head are supposed to be the most efficient
means of securing.
He quotes Axel. Dalrymple as follows (p. 141)
The Uru Ais believe that the persons whose heads they take will become
their slaves in the next world.
On the same page he quotes others to the same point regarding other
tribes of Borneo.
Roth states (p. 163):
From all accounts there can be little doubt that one of the chief
incentives to getting heads is the desire to please the women. It may
not always have been so and there may be and probably is the natural
blood-thirstiness of the animal in man to account for a great deal
of the head-taking.
He quotes Mrs. F. F. McDougall in her statement of a Sakaran legend
of the origin of head-taking to the effect that the daughter of their
great ancestor residing near the Evening Star "refused to marry until
her betrothed brought her a present worth her acceptance." First
the young man killed a deer which the girl turned from with disdain;
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