The Bontoc Igorot
Albert Ernest Jenks
Part 5 out of 8
then he killed and brought her one of the great monkeys of the forest,
but it did not please her. "Then, in a fit of despair, the lover went
abroad and killed the first man he met, and, throwing his victim's
head at the maiden's feet, he exclaimed at the cruelty she had made
him guilty of; but, to his surprise, she smiled and said that now
he had discovered the only gift worthy of herself" (p. 163). In the
three following pages of his book the author quotes three or four
other writers who cite in detail instances wherein heads were taken
simply to advance the slayer's interests with women.
As showing the passion for head-hunting among these people, St. John
tells of a young man who, starting alone to get a head from a
neighboring tribe, took the head of "an old woman of their own tribe,
not very distantly related to the young fellow himself." When the
fact was discovered "he was only fined by the chief of the tribe and
the head taken from him and buried" (p. 161).
Again (p. 159):
The maxim of the ruffians (Kayans) is that out of their own country
all are fair game. "Were we to meet our father, we would slay him." The
head of a child or of a woman is as highly prized as that of a man.
Mr. Roth writes that Mr. F. Witti "found that the latter (Limberan)
would not count as against themselves heads obtained on head-hunting
excursions, but only those of people who had been making peaceful
visits, etc. In fact, the sporting head-hunter bags what he can get,
his declared friends alone excepted" (p. 160).
The Ibilao of Luzon, near Dupax, of the Province of Nueva Vizcaya,
give the name "debt of life" to their head-hunting practice; but they
have, in addition, other reasons for head taking. No man may marry who
has not first taken a head; and every year after they harvest their
palay the men go away for heads, often going journeys requiring a
month of time in order to strike a particular group of enemies. The
Christians of Dupax claim that in 1899 the Ibilao took the heads of
three Dupax women who were working in the rice sementeras close to
the pueblo. These same Christians also claim that they have seen a
human head above the stacks of harvested Ibilao palay; and they claim
the custom is practiced annually, though the Ibilao deny it.
Some dozen causes for head-hunting among primitive Malayan peoples
have been here cited. These include the debt of life, requirements
for marriage, desire for abundant fruitage and harvest of cultivated
products, the desire to be considered brave and manly, desire for
exaltation in the minds of descendants, to increase wealth, to secure
abundance of wild game and fish, to secure general health and activity
of the people, general favor at the hands of the women, fecundity of
women, and slaves in the future life.
From long continuance in the practice of head-hunting, many beliefs
and superstitions arise to foster it, until in the minds of the
people these beliefs are greater factors in its perpetuation than the
original one of the debt of life. The possession of a head, with the
accompanying honor, feasts, and good omens, seems in many cases to
be of first importance rather than the avenging of a life.
The custom of head taking came with the Igorot to Luzon, a custom of
their ancestors in some earlier home. The people of Bontoc, however,
say that their god, Lumawig, taught them to go to war. When, a very
long time ago, he lived in Bontoc, he asked them to accompany him
on a war expedition to Lagod, the north country. They said they did
not wish to go, but finally yielded to his urgings and followed
him. On the return trip the men missed one of their companions,
Gu-ma'-nub. Lumawig told them that Gu-ma'-nub had been killed by
the people of the north. And thus their wars began -- Gu-ma'-nub
must be avenged. They have also a legend in regard to head taking:
The Moon, a woman called "Kabigat," was sitting one day making a
copper pot, and one of the children of the man Chalchal, the Sun,
came to watch her. She struck him with her molding paddle, cutting
off his head. The Sun immediately appeared and placed the boy's head
back on his shoulders. Then the Sun said to the Moon: "Because you
cut off my son's head, the people of the Earth are cutting off each
other's heads, and will do so hereafter."
With the Bontoc men the taking of heads is not the passion it seems
to be with some of the people of Borneo. It, is, however, the almost
invariable accompaniment of their interpueblo warfare. They invariably,
too, take the heads of all killed on a head-hunting expedition. They
have skulls of Spaniards, and also skulls of Igorot, secured when on
expeditions of punishment or annihilation with the Spanish soldiers.
But the possession of a head is in no way a requisite to marriage. A
head has no part in the ceremonies for palay fruitage and harvest,
or in any of the numerous agricultural or health ceremonies of the
year. It in no way affects a man's wealth, and, so far as I have been
able to learn, it in no way affects in their minds a man's future
existence. A beheaded man, far from being a slave, has special honor
in the future state, but there seems to be none for the head taker. As
shown by the Lumawig legend the debt of life is the primary cause
of warfare in the minds of the people of Bontoc, and it is to-day a
persistent cause. Moreover, since interpueblo warfare exists and head
taking is its form, head-hunting is a necessity with an individual
group of people in a state of nature. Without it a people could have
no peace, and would be annihilated by some group which believed it
a coward and an easy prey.
There is no doubt that the desire to be considered brave and manly has
come to be a factor in Bontoc head taking. In my presence an Igorot
once told a member of ato Ungkan that the men of his ato were like
girls, because they had not taken heads. The statement was false,
but the pronounced judgment sincere. In this connection, also, it
may be said that although the taking of a head is not a requisite
to marriage, and they say that it does not win the men special favor
from the women, yet, since it makes them manly and brave in the eyes
of their fellows, it must also have its influence on the women.
The desire for exaltation in the minds of descendants also has
a certain influence -- young men in quarrels sometimes brag of the
number of heads taken by their ancestors, and the prowess or success
of an ancestor seems to redound to the courage of the descendants; and
it is an affront to purposely and seriously belittle the head-hunting
results of a man's father.
There can be no doubt that head-hunting expeditions are often made
in response to a desire for activity and excitement, with all the
feasting, dancing, and rest days that follow a successful foray. The
explosive nature of a man's emotional energy demands this bursting of
the tension of everyday activities. In other words, the people get to
itching for a head, because a head brings them emotional satisfaction.
It is believed that now the people of the two sister pueblos, Bontoc
and Samoki, look on war and head-hunting somewhat as a game, as a
dangerous, great sport, though not a pastime. It is a test of agility
and skill, in which superior courage and brute force are minor factors.
Primarily a pueblo is an enemy of every other pueblo, but it is
customary for pueblos to make terms of peace. Neighboring pueblos are
usually, but not always, friendly. The second pueblo away is usually
an enemy. On most of our trips through northern Luzon cargadors and
guides could readily be secured to go to the nearest pueblo, but in
most cases they absolutely refused to go on to the second pueblo,
and could seldom be driven on by any argument or force. The actual
negotiations for peace are generally between some two ato of the
two interested pueblos, since the debt of life is most often between
Bontoc and Samoki claim never to have sued for peace -- a statement
probably true, as they are by far the largest body of warriors in
the culture area, and their war reputation is the worst. When one
ato agrees on peace with another the entire pueblo honors the treaty.
The following peace agreements have been sought by outside pueblos in
recent years of the following ato of Bontoc: Sakasakan sued for peace
from Somowan, and Barlig from Pudpudchog; Tulubin, from Buyayyeng;
Bitwagan, from Sipaat; Tukukan sought peace from both Amkawa and
Polupo, and Sabangan also from Polupo; Sadanga, from Choko; and
Baliwang, from Longfoy.
The relations with two of these pueblos, Barlig and Sadanga, however,
are now not peaceful. Bontoc has many kin in Lias, some two days
to the east, the trail to which passes Barlig; but communication
between these pueblos of kin has ceased, because of the attitude of
Barlig. Communication between Bontoc and Tinglayan, northeast of the
Bontoc area on the river, has also ceased, because of the enmity of
Sadanga, which lies close to the trail between the two pueblos.
The peace ceremonial, to which a hog or carabao is brought by the
entreating people and eaten by the two parties to the agreement,
is called "pwi-din." The peace is sealed by some exchange, as of a
battle-ax for a blanket, the people sued having the better part of
It now and then happens that of two pueblos at peace one loses a head
to the other. If the one taking the head desires continued peace,
some of its most influential men hasten to the other pueblo to talk
the matter over. Very likely the other pueblo will say, "If you wish
war, all right; if not, you bring us two carabaos, and we will still
be friends." If no effort for peace is made by the offenders, each
from that day considers the other an enemy.
There is a formal way of breaking the peace between two pueblos: Should
ato Somowan of Bontoc, for instance, wish to break her peace with
Sakasakan she holds a ceremonial meeting, called "men-pa-kel'." In
this meeting the old men freely speak their minds; and when all
matters are settled a messenger departs for Sakasakan bearing a
battle-ax or spear -- the customary token of war with all these Bontoc
peoples. The life of the war messenger is secure, but, if possible,
he is a close relative of the challenged people. There is no record
that such a person was ever killed while on his mission. The messenger
presents himself to some old man of the ato or pueblo, and says,
"In-ya'-lak nan sud-sud in-fu-sul'-ta-ko," which means, roughly,
"I bring the challenge of war."
If the challenge is accepted, as it usually is, an ax or spear is
given the messenger, and he hastens home to exclaim to his people,
"In-tang-i'-cha men-fu-sul'-ta-ko" -- that is, "They care to contest
A peace thus canceled is followed by a battle between practically all
the men of both sides. It is customary for the challenging people,
within a few days, to appear before the pueblo of their late friends,
and the men at once come out in answer to the challenging cries of
the visitors -- "Come out if you dare to fight us?" Or it may he that
those challenged appear near the other pueblo before it has time to
back its challenge.
If the challenged pueblo does not wish to fight, the spokesman tells
the messenger that they do not wish war; they desire continued
friendship; and the messenger returns to his people, not with a
weapon of war, but with a chicken or a pig; and he repeats to his
people the message he received from the old man.
After a peace has been canceled the two pueblos keep up a predatory
warfare, with a head lost here and there, and with now and then a
more serious battle, until one or the other again sues for peace,
and has its prayer granted. In this predatory warfare the entire
body of enemies, one or more ato, at times lays in hiding to take a
few heads from lone people at their daily toil. Or when the country
about a trail is covered with close tropical growth an enemy may hide
close above the path and practically pick his man as he passes beneath
him. He hurls or thrusts his spear, and almost always escapes with his
own life, frequently bursting through a line of people on the trail,
and instantly disappearing in the cover below. Should the injured
pueblo immediately retaliate, it finds its enemies alert and on guard.
At two places near the mountain trail between Samoki and Tulubin is a
trellis-like structure called "ko'-mis." It consists of several posts
set vertically in the ground, to which horizontal poles are tied, The
posts are the stem and root sections of the beautiful tree ferm. They
are set root end up, and the fine, matted rootlets present a compact
surface which the Igorot has carved in the traditional shape of the
"anito." Some of these heads have inlaid eyes and teeth of stone. Hung
on the ko'-mis are baskets and frames in which chickens and pigs have
been carried to the place for ceremonial feasting.
These two ko'-mis were built four years ago when Bontoc and Samoki had
their last important head-hunting forays with Tulubin. When Bontoc or
Samoki (and usually they fight together) sought Tulubin heads they
spent a night at one of the ko'-mis, remaining at the first one,
if the signs were propitious -- but, if not, they passed on to the
second, hoping for better success. They killed and ate their fowls and
pigs in a ceremony called "fi-kat'," and, if all was well, approached
the mountains near Tulubin and watched to waylay a few of her people
when they came to the sementeras in the early morning. If a crow flew
cawing over the trail, or a snake or rat crossed before the warriors,
or a rock rolled down the mountain side, or a clod of earth caved
away under their feet, or if the little omen bird, "i'-chu," called,
the expedition was abandoned, as these were bad omens.
The ceremony of the ko'-mis is held before all head-hunting
expeditions, except in the unpremeditated outburst of a people to
immediately punish the successful foray or ambush of some other. The
ko'-mis is built along all Bontoc war trails, though no others are
known having the "anito" heads. So persistent are the warriors if
they have decided to go to a particular pueblo for heads that they
often go day after day to the ko'-mis for eight or ten days before
they are satisfied that no good omens will come to them. If the omens
are persistently bad, it is customary for the warriors to return to
their ato and hold the mo-ging ceremony, during which they bury under
the stone pavement of the fawi court one of the skulls then preserved
in the ato.
In this way they explode their extra emotions and partially work off
Occasionally a town has a bad strain of blood, and two or three men
break away without common knowledge and take heads. The entire body
of warriors in the pueblo where those murdered lived promptly rises
and pours itself unheralded on the pueblo of the murderers. If these
people are not warned the slaughter is terrible -- men, women, and
children alike being slain. None is spared, except mere babes, unless
they belong to the offended pueblo, marriage having taken them away
from home. Preceding a known attack on a pueblo it is customary for
the women and children to flee to the mountains, taking with them the
dogs, pigs, chickens, and valuable household effects. However, Bontoc
pueblo, because of her strength, is not so evacuated -- she expects
no enemy strong enough to burst through and reach the defenseless.
In the Banawi area, where the dwellings are built on prominences
frequently a hundred or more feet above the surrounding territory,
they say the women often remain and assist in the defense by hurling
rocks. They are safer there than they would be elsewhere.
Men go to war armed with a wooden shield, a steel battle-ax, and
one to three steel or wooden spears. It is a man's agility and skill
in keeping his shield between himself and the enemy that preserves
his life. Their battles are full of quick, incessant springing
motion. There are sudden rushes and retreats, sneaking flank movements
to cut an enemy off. The body is always in hand, always in motion,
that it may respond instantly to every necessity. Spears are thrown
with greatest accuracy and fatality up to 30 feet, and after the
spears are discharged the contest, if continued, is at arms' length
with the battle-axes. In such warfare no attitude or position can
safely be maintained except for the shortest possible time.
Challenges and bluffs are sung out from either side, and these
bluffs are usually "called." In the last Bontoc-Tulubin foray a fine,
strapping Tulubin warrior sung out that he wanted to fight ten men --
he was taken at his word so suddenly that his head was a Bontoc prize
before his friends could rally to assist him.
In March we were returning from a trip to Banawi of the Quiangan area,
and were warned we might be attacked near a certain river. As we
approached it coming down a forested mountain side three or four men
were seen among the trees on the farther side of the stream. Presently
they called their dogs, which began to bark; then our Bontoc Igorot
Constabulary escort "joshed" the supposed enemy by loudly caning dogs
and hogs. Presently the calls worked themselves into a rhythmic chorus
for all like a strong college yell, "A'-su, a'-su, a'-su, a'-su,
fu'-tug, fu'-tug, fu'-tug, fu'-tug." It is probable the men across
the river were hunting wild hogs, but at the time the Constabulary
considered the dog calls simply a bluff, which they "called" in the
only way they could as they continued down the mountain trail.
Rocks are often thrown in battle, and not infrequently a man's leg
is broken or he is knocked senseless by a rock, whereupon he loses
his head to the enemy, unless immediately assisted by his friends.
There is little formality about the head taking. Most heads are
cut off with the battle-ax before the wounded man is dead. Not
infrequently two or more men have thrown their spears into a man who
is disabled. If among the number there is one who has never taken a
head, he will generally be allowed to cut this one from the body,
and thus be entitled to a head taker's distinct tattoo. However,
the head belongs to the man who threw the first disabling spear,
and it finds its resting place in his ato. If there is time, men of
other ato may cut off the man's hands and feet to be displayed in
their ato. Sometimes succeeding sections of the arms and legs are
cut and taken away, so only the trunk is left on the field.
Frequently a battle ends when a single head is taken by either side --
the victors calling out, "Now you go home, and we will go home; and
if you want to fight some other day, all right!" In this way battles
are ended in an hour or so, and often in half an hour. However,
they have battles lasting half a day, and ten or a dozen heads are
taken. Seven pueblos of the lower Quiangan region went against the
scattered groups of dwellings in the Banawi area of the upper Quiangan
region in May, 1902. The invaders had seven guns, but the people of
Banawi had more than sixty -- a fact the invaders did not know until
too late. However, they did not retire until they had lost a hundred
and fifty heads. They annihilated one of the groups of the enemy,
getting about fifty heads, and burned down the dwellings. This is by
far the fiercest Igorot battle of which there is any memory, and its
ferocity is largely due to firearms.
When a head has been taken the victor usually starts at once for his
pueblo, without waiting for the further issue of the battle. He brings
the head to his ato and it is put in a small funnel-shaped receptacle,
called "sak-o'-long," which is tied on a post in the stone court of
the fawi. The entire ato joins in a ceremony for the day and night;
it is called "se'-dak." A dog or hog is killed, the greater part of
which is eaten by the old men of the ato, while the younger men dance
to the rhythmic beats of the gangsa. On the next day, "chao'-is,"
a month's ceremony, begins. About 7 o'clock in the morning the old
men take the head to the river. There they build a fire and place
the head beside it, while the other men of the ato dance about it
for an hour. All then sit down on their haunches facing the river,
and, as each throws a small pebble into the water he says, "Man-i'-su,
hu! hu! hu! Tukukan!" -- or the name of the pueblo from which the head
was taken. This is to divert the battle-ax of their enemy from their
own necks. The head is washed in the river by sousing it up and down
by the hair; and the party returns to the fawi where the lower jaw is
cut from the head, boiled to remove the flesh, and becomes a handle
for the victor's gangsa. In the evening the head is buried under the
stones of the fawi.
In a head ceremony which began in Samoki May 21, 1903, there was a
hand, a jaw, and an ear suspended from posts in the courts of ato
Nag-pi', Ka'-wa, and Nak-a-wang', respectively. In each of the eight
ato of the pueblo the head ceremony was performed. In their dances the
men wore about their necks rich strings of native agate beads which at
other dances the women usually wear on their heads. Many had boar-tusk
armlets, some of which were gay with tassels of human hair. Their
breechcloths were bright and long. All wore their battle-axes, two of
which were freshly stained halfway up the blade with human blood --
they were the axes used in severing the trophies from the body of
On the second day the dance began about 4 o'clock in the morning, at
which time a bright, waning moon flooded the pueblo with light. At
every ato the dance circle was started in its swing, and barely
ceased for a month. A group of eight or ten men formed, as is shown
in Pl. CXXXI, and danced contraclockwise around and around the small
circle. Each dancer beat his blood and emotions into sympathetic
rhythm on his gangsa, and each entered intently yet joyfully into the
spirit of the occasion -- they had defeated an enemy in the way they
had been taught for generations.
It was a month of feasting and holidays. Carabaos, hogs, dogs,
and chickens were killed and eaten. No work except that absolutely
necessary was performed, but all people -- men, women, and children --
gathered at the ato dance grounds and were joyous together.
Each ato brought a score of loads of palay, and for two days women
threshed it out in a long wooden trough for all to eat in a great
feast. This ceremonial threshing is shown in Pl. CXXXII. Twenty-four
persons, usually all women, lined up along each side of the trough,
and, accompanying their own songs by rhythmic beating of their pestles
on the planks strung along the sides of the trough, each row of happy
toilers alternately swung in and out, toward and from the trough,
its long heavy pestles rising and falling with the regular "click,
click, thush; click, click, thush!" as they fell rebounding on the
plank, and were then raised and thrust into the palay-filled trough.
After heads have been taken by an ato any person of that ato -- man,
woman, or child -- may be tattooed; and in Bontoc pueblo they maintain
that tattooing may not occur at any other time, and that no person,
unless a member of the successful ato, may be tattooed.
After the captured head has been in the earth under the fawi court of
Bontoc about three years it is dug up, washed in the river, and placed
in the large basket, the so-lo'-nang, in the fawi, where doubtless it
is one of several which have a similar history. At such time there is
a three-day's ceremony, called "min-pa-fa'-kal is nan mo'-king." It
is a rest period for the entire pueblo, with feasting and dancing,
and three or four hogs are killed. The women may then enter the fawi;
it is said to be the only occasion they are granted the privilege.
In the fawi of ato Sigichan there are at present three skulls of men
from Sagada, one of a man from Balugan, and one of a man and two of
women from Baliwang. Probably not more than a dozen skulls are kept
in a fawi at one time. The final resting place of the skull is again
under the stones of the fawi. Samoki does not keep the skull at all;
it remains where buried under the ato court. As was stated before, a
skull is generally buried under the stones of the fawi court whenever
the omens are such that a proposed head-hunting expedition is given
up. They are doubtless, also, buried at other times when the basket
in the fawi becomes too full. Sigichan has buried twenty-eight skulls
in the memory of her oldest member -- making a total of thirty-five
heads taken, say, in fifty years. Three of these were men's heads
from Ankiling, nine were men's heads from Tukukan, three were men's
heads from Barlig, three were men's heads and four women's heads from
Sabangan, and six were men's heads from Sadanga. During this same
period Sigichan claims to have lost one man's head each to Sabangan
No small children's skulls can be found in Bontoc, though some other
head-hunters take the heads even of infants. In fact, the men of
Bontoc say that babes and children up to about 5 years of age are not
killed by the head-hunter. If one should take a child's head he would
shortly be called to fate by some watchful pinteng in language as
follows: "Why did you take that babe's head? It does not understand
war. Pretty soon some pueblo will take your head." And the pinteng
is supposed to put it into the mind of some pueblo to get the head
of that particularly cruel man.
The friends of a beheaded person take his body home from the scene
of death. It remains one day sitting in the dwelling. Sometimes a
head is bought back from the victors at the end of a day, the usual
price paid being a carabao. After the body has remained one day in
the dwelling it is said to be buried without ceremony near the trail
leading to the pueblo which took the head. The following day the entire
ato has a ceremonial fishing in the river, called "mang-o'-gao" or
"tid-wil." A fish feast follows for the evening meal. The next day
the mang-ay'-yu ceremony occurs. At that time the men of the ato,
go near the place where their companion lost his head and ask the
beheaded man's spirit, the pinteng, to return to their pueblo.
Pl. CXXXVI shows the burial of a beheaded corpse in Banawi in April,
1903. After the head-taking the body was set up two days under the
dwelling of the dead man, and was then carried to the mountain side
in the direction of Kambulo, the pueblo which killed the man. It was
tied on a war shield and the whole tied to a pole which was borne by
two men, as is shown in Pl. CXXXV. The funeral procession was made
up as follows: First, four warriors proceeded, one after the other,
along a narrow path on the dike walls, each beating a slow rhythm
with a stick on the long, black, Banawi war shield, each shield,
however, being striped differently with white-earth paint. The corpse
was borne next, after which followed about a dozen more warriors,
most of whom carried the white-marked shield -- an emblem of mourning.
About half a mile from the dwelling the party left the sementeras and
climbed up a short, steep ascent to a spot resembling the entrance to
the earth burrow of some giant animal, and there the strange corpse was
placed on the ground. A small group of people, including one old woman,
was awaiting the funeral party. At the back end of the burrow two men
tore away the earth and disclosed a small wall of loose stones. These
they removed and revealed a vertical entrance in the earth about 2 feet
high and 2 1/2 feet wide. Through this small opening one of the men
crawled, and crouching in the narrow sepulcher scraped up and threw
out a few handfuls of earth. We were told that the corpse before us
was the fifth to be placed in that old tomb, all being victims of the
pueblo of Kambulo, and four of whom were descendants of the first man
buried at that place -- certainly "blood vengeance" with a vengeance.
We were without means of understanding the two or three simple oral
ceremonies said over the body, but the woman played a part which it
is understood she does not in the Bontoc area. She carried a slender,
polished stick, greatly resembling a baton or "swagger stick," and
with this stood over the gruesome body, thrusting the stick again
and again toward and close to the severed neck, meanwhile repeating a
short, low-voiced something. After the body was cut from its shield
a blanket was wrapped about it -- otherwise it was nude, save for a
flayed-bark breechcloth -- and it was set up in the cramped sepulcher
facing Kambulo, and sitting supported away from the earth walls by four
short wooden sticks placed upright about it. An old bamboo-headed spear
was broken in the shaft and the two sections placed with the corpse.
The stones were again piled across the entrance, and when all was
closed except the place for one small stone a man gave a few farewell
thrusts through the opening with a stick, uttering at the same time
a short low sentence or two. The final stone was placed and the earth
heaped against the wall.
The pole to which the corpse was tied when borne to the burial
was placed horizontally before the tomb, supported with both ends
resting on the high side walls of the burrow, and on it were hung a
dozen white-bark headbands which were worn, evidently, as a mark of
mourning, by many of the men who attended the burial.
How long it would be, in a state of nature, before the tomb would be
required for another burial is a matter of chance, but a relative,
frequently a son, nephew, or brother of the dead man, would be expected
to avenge the dead man on the pueblo of Kambulo, with chances in
favor of success, but also with equal chances of ultimate loss of
the warrior's head and burial where six kinsmen had preceded him.
There is relatively little "color" in the life of the Bontoc
Igorot. In the preceding chapter reference was made to the belief
that this lack of "color," the monotony of everyday life, has to
do with the continuation of head-hunting. The life of the Igorot is
somber-hued indeed as compared with that of his more advanced neighbor,
The Bontoc Igorot is not much given to dress -- under which term are
considered the movable adornments of persons. Little effort is made
by the man toward dressing the head, though before marriage he at
times wears a sprig of flowers or of some green plant tucked in the
hat at either side. The young man's suklang is also generally more
attractive than that of the married man. With its side ornaments of
human-hair tassels, its dog teeth, or mother-of-pearl disks, and its
red and yellow colors, it is often very gay.
About one hundred and fifty men in Bontoc and Samoki own and sometimes
wear at the girdle a large 7-inch disk of mother-of-pearl shell. It is
called "fi-kum'," and its use is purely ornamental. (See Pls. LXXX and
XXX.) It is valued highly, and I have not known half a dozen Igorot to
part with one for any price. This shell ornament is widespread through
the country east and also south of the Bontoc area, but nowhere is it
seen plentifully, except on ceremonial days -- probably not a dozen
are worn daily in Bontoc.
Other forms of adornment, though only a means to a permanent end, are
the ear stretchers and variety of ear plugs which are worn in a slit in
the ear lobe preparing it for the earring -- the sing-sing, which all
hope to possess. The stretcher consists of two short pieces of bamboo
forced apart and so held by two short crosspieces inserted between
them. The bamboo ear stretcher is generally ornamented by straight
incised lines. The plugs are not all considered decorative. Some
are bunches of a vegetable pith (Pl. CXXXVIII), others are wads of
sugar-cane leaves. Some, however, are wooden plugs shaped quite like
an ordinary large cork stopper of a bottle (Pl. CXXXVII). The outer
end is often ornamented by straight incised lines or with red seeds
affixed with wax or with a small piece of a cheap glass mirror roughly
inlaid. The long ear slit is not the end sought, because if the owner
despairs of owning the coveted earring the stretchers and plugs are
eventually removed and the slit contracts from an inch and one-half
to a quarter of an inch or less in length. The long slit is desired
because the people consider the effect more beautiful when the ring
swings and dangles at the bottom of the pendant ear. The gold earring
is the most coveted, but a few silver and many copper rings are worn
in substitution for the gold.
(A, gold; B, copper (both are two or three generations old and their
patterns are no longer made); C, copper; D, silver.)
This is practically the extent of the everyday adornment worn by the
boys and men. Small boys sometimes wear a brass-wire bracelet; but
the brass wire, so commonly worn on the wrists, ankles, and necks of
the people east, north, and south of the Bontoc area, is not affected
by the people of Bontoc.
As has been mentioned, there is an unique display of dress by the
man at the head-taking ceremony of the ato, when some of the dancers
wear boar-tusk armlets, called "ab-kil'," and a boar-tusk necklace,
The necklace quite resembles the Indian bear-claw necklace, but it
is worn with the tusks pointing away from the breast, not toward
it, as is the case with the Indian necklace. There are about six of
these necklaces in Bontoc, and it is almost impossible to buy one,
but the armlets are more plentiful. They are worn above the biceps,
and some are adorned with a tuft of hair cut from a captured head.
The movable adornments of the woman are very similar to those of
The unmarried woman wears the flowers or green sprigs in the hair,
though less often than does the man. She wears the ear stretchers, ear
plugs, and earrings exactly as he does. Probably 60 per cent of men and
women in some way dress one ear; probably half as many dress both ears.
The chief adornment of the woman is her hairdress. It consists of
strings of various beads, called "a-pong'." The hair is never combed
in its dressing, except with the fingers, but the entire hair is
caught at the base of the skull and lightly twisted into a loose roll;
a string of beads is put beneath this twist at the back and carried
forward across the head. The roll is then brought to the front of the
head around the left side; at the front it is tucked forward under the
beads, being thus held tightly in place. The twist is carried around
the head as far as it will extend, and the end there tucked under the
beads and thus secured. One and not infrequently two additional strings
of beads are laid over the hair, more completely holding it in place.
The first string of beads placed on the head usually consists of
compact, glossy, black seeds. Frequently brass-wire rings are regularly
dispersed along the string. These beads are shown in Pl. CXLII. The
second string, with its white, lozenge-shaped stone beads (Pl. CXXXIX),
is very striking and attractive against the black hair. This string
reaches its perfection when it is composed solely of spherical agate
beads the size of small marbles and the longer white stone beads
placed at regular intervals among the reddish agates. It is practically
impossible to purchase these beads, since they are heirlooms. The third
string is usually of dog teeth. They are strung alternately with black
seeds or with sections of dog rib. This string is worn over the hair,
running from the forehead around the back of the head, the white teeth
resting low on the back hair, and making a very attractive adornment
as they stand, points out, against the black hair. (See Pl. CLII.)
Igorot women dress their hair richly in their important ceremonials. In
an in-pug-pug' ceremony of Sipaat ato in Bontoc I saw women wearing
seven strings of agate beads on their hair and about their necks. The
woman loves to show her friends her accumulated wealth in heirlooms,
and the ato or pueblo ceremonies are the most favorable opportunities
for such display. All these various hairdress beads are of Igorot
I have seen Tukukan women come to Bontoc wearing a solid diadem about
the hair. It consisted of a rattan foundation encircling the head,
covered with blackened beeswax studded with three parallel rows of
encircling bright-red seeds. It made a very striking headdress.
Now and then a woman is seen wearing beads around the neck, but the
Bontoc woman almost never has such adornment. They are seen frequently
in pueblos to the west, however. The beads for everyday wear are
seeds in black, brown, and gray. There is also a small, irregular,
cylindrical, wooden bead worn by the women. It is sometimes worn in
strings of three or four beads by men. I believe it is considered of
talismanic value when so worn.
Many women in Mayinit and some women of Bontoc wear the heirloom
girdle, called "a-ko'-san," made of shells and brass wire encircling
a cloth girdle (see Pl. CXL). The cloth is made in the form of a long,
narrow wallet, practically concealed at the back by the encircling wire
and shells. Within this wallet the cherished agate and white stone
hairdress is often hidden away. In Mayinit this girdle is frequently
worn beneath the skirt, when it becomes, in every essential and in
the effect produced, a bustle. I have never seen it so worn in Bontoc.
Under this head are classed all the forms of permanent adornment of
First must be cited the cutting and stretching of the ear. Whereas
the long, pendant earlobe is not the end in itself, nor is the long
slit always permanent, yet the mutilation of the ear is permanent
and desired. In a great many cases the lobe breaks, and the two,
and even three, long strips of lobe hanging down seem to give their
owner certain pride. Often the lower end of one of these strips is
pierced and supports a ring. The sexes share alike in the preparation
for and the wearing of earrings.
The woman has a permanent decoration of the nature of the "switch"
of the civilized woman. The loose hair combed from the head with the
fingers is saved, and is eventually rolled with the live hair of the
head into long, twisted strings, some of which are an inch in diameter
and three feet long; some women have more than a dozen of these twisted
strings attached to the scalp. This is a common, though not universal,
method of decorating the head, and the mass of lard-soaked, twisted
hair stands out prominently around the crown, held more or less in
place by the various bead hairdresses. (See Pls. CXLI and CXLII.)
The great permanent decoration of the Igorot is the tattoo. As has
been stated in Chapter VI on "War and Head-Hunting," all the members
-- men, women, and children -- of an ato may be tattooed whenever a
head is taken by any person of the ato. It is claimed in Bontoc that
at no other time is it possible for a person to be tattooed. But
Tukukan tattooed some of her women in May, 1903, and this in spite
of the fact that no heads had recently been taken there. However,
the regulations of one pueblo are not necessarily those of another.
In every pueblo, there are one or more men, called "bu-ma-fa'-tek,"
who understand the art of tattooing. There are two such in Bontoc --
Toki, of Lowingan, and Finumti, of Longfoy -- and each has practiced
his art on the other. Finumti has his back and legs tattooed in an
almost unique way. I have seen only one other at all tattooed on the
back, and then the designs were simple. A large double scallop extends
from the hip to the knee on the outside of each of Finumti's legs.
The design is drawn on the skin with ink made of soot and water. Then
the tattooer pricks the skin through the design. The instrument used
for tattooing is called "cha-kay'-yum." It consists of from four to
ten commercial steel needles inserted in a straight line in the end
of a wooden handle; "cha-kay'-yum" is also the word for needle. After
the pattern is pricked in, the soot is powdered over it and pressed in
the openings; the tattooer prefers the soot gathered from the bottom
The finished tattoo is a dull, blue black in color, sometimes having a
greenish cast. A man in Tulubin has a tattoo across his throat which
is distinctly green, while the remainder of his tattoo is the common
blue black. The newly tattooed design stands out in whitish ridges,
and these frequently fester and produce a mass of itching sores
lasting about one month (see Pl. CXLVII).
The Igorot distinguishes three classes of tattoos: The chak-lag',
the breast tattoo of the head taker; pong'-o, the tattoo on the arms
of men and women; and fa'-tek, under which name all other tattoos
of both sexes are classed. Fa'-tek is the general word for tattoo,
and pong'-o is the name of woman's tattoo.
It is general for boys under 10 years of age to be tattooed. Their
first marks are usually a small, half-inch cross on either cheek or a
line or small cross on the nose. One boy in Bontoc, just at the age
of puberty, has a tattoo encircling the lower jaw and chin, a wavy
line across the forehead, a straight line down the nose, and crosses
on the cheeks; but he is the youngest person I have seen wearing the
jaw tattoo -- a mark quite commonly made in Bontoc when the chak-lag',
or head-taker's emblem, is put on.
The chak-lag' is the most important tattoo of the Igorot, since it
marks its wearer as a taker of at least one human head. It therefore
stands for a successful issue in the most crucial test of the fitness
of a person to contribute to the strength of the group of which he is
a unit. It no doubt gives its wearer a certain advantage in combat --
a confidence and conceit in his own ability, and, likely, it tends
to unnerve a combatant who has not the same emblem and experience. No
matter what the exact social importance or advantage may be, it seems
that every man in Bontoc who has the right to the emblem shows his
appreciation of the privilege, since nine-tenths of the men wear the
chak-lag'. It consists of a series of geometric markings running
upward from the breast near each nipple and curving out on each
shoulder, where it ends on the upper arm. The accompanying plates
(CXLIII to CXLIX) give an excellent idea of the nature and appearance
of the Igorot tattoo -- of course, reproductions in color would add
to the effect. The distinctness of the markings in the photographs
is about normal.
The basis of the designs is apparently geometric. If the straight-line
designs originated in animal forms, they have now become so
conventional that I have not discovered their original form.
The Bontoc woman is tattooed only on the arms. This tattoo begins
close back of the knuckles on the back of the hands, and, as soon
as it reaches the wrist, entirely encircles the arms to above the
elbows. Still above this there is frequently a separate design on
the outside of the arm; it is often the figure of a man with extended
arms and sprawled legs.
The chak-lag' design on the man's breast is almost invariably
supplemented by two or three sets of horizontal lines on the biceps
immediately beneath the outer end of the main design. If the tattoo
on the arms of the woman were transferred to the arms of the man,
there would seldom be an overlapping -- each would supplement the
other. On the men the lines are longer and the patterns simpler than
those of the women, where the lines are more cross-hatched and the
design partakes of the nature of patch-work.
It was not discovered that any tattoo has a special meaning, except
the head-taker's emblem; and the Igorot consistently maintains that
all the others are put on simply at the whim of the wearer. The face
markings, those on the arms, the stomach, and elsewhere on the body,
are believed to be purely aesthetic. The people compare their tattoo
with the figures of an American's shirt or coat, saying they both look
pretty. Often a cross-hatched marking is put over goiter, varicose
veins, and other permanent swellings or enlargements. Evidently they
are believed to have some therapeutic virtue, but no statement could
be obtained to substantiate this opinion.
As is shown by Pls. CXLVIII and CXLIX, the tattoo of both Banawi men
and women seems to spring from a different form than does the Bontoc
tattoo. It appears to be a leaf, or a fern frond, but I know nothing
of its origin or meaning. There is much difference in details between
the tattoos of culture areas, and even of pueblos. For instance,
in Bontoc pueblo there is no tattoo on a man's hand, while in the
pueblos near the south side of the area the hands are frequently
marked on the backs. In Benguet there is a design popularly said to
represent the sun, which is seen commonly on men's hands. Instances
of such differences could be greatly multiplied here, but must be
left for a more complete study of the Igorot tattoo.
The Bontoc Igorot has few musical instruments, and all are very
simple. The most common is a gong, a flat metal drum about 1 foot in
diameter and 2 inches deep. This drum is commonly said to be "brass,"
but analyses show it to be bronze.
Two gongs submitted to the Bureau of Government Laboratories, Manila,
consisted, in one case, of approximately 80 per cent copper, 15 per
cent tin, and 5 per cent zinc; in the other case of approximately 84
per cent copper, 15 per cent tin, 1 per cent zinc, and a trace of iron.
Early Chinese records read that tin was one of the Chinese imports
into Manila in the thirteenth century. Copper was mined and wrought
by the Igorot when the Spaniards came to the Philippines, and they
wrote regarding it that it was then an old and established industry
and art. It may possibly be that bronze was made in the Philippines
before the arrival of the Spaniard, but there is no proof of such
The gong to-day enters the Bontoc area in commerce generally from
the north -- from the Igorot or Tinguian of old Abra Province --
and no one in the Provinces of Benguet or Lepanto-Bontoc seems to
know its source. Throughout the Archipelago and southward in Borneo
there are metal drums or "gongs" apparently of similar material but
of varying styles. It is commonly claimed that those of the Moro are
made on the Asiatic mainland. It is my opinion that the Bontoc gong,
or gang'-sa, originates in China, though perhaps it is not now imported
directly from there. It certainly does not enter the Island of Luzon
at Manila, or Candon in Ilokos Sur, and, it is said, not at Vigan,
also in Ilokos Sur.
In the Bontoc area there are two classes of gang'-sa; one is called
ka'-los, and the other co-ong'-an. The co-ong'-an is frequently larger
than the other, seems to be always of thicker metal, and has a more
bell-like and usually higher-pitched tone. I measured several gang'-sa
in Bontoc and Samoki, and find the co-ong'-an about 5 millimeters
thick, 52 to 55 millimeters deep, and from 330 to 360 millimeters in
diameter; the ka'-los is only about 2 to 3 millimeters thick. The
Igorot distinguishes between the two very quickly, and prizes the
co-ong'-an at about twice the value of the ka'-los. Either is worth
a large price to-day in the central part of the area -- or from one
to two carabaos -- but it is quite impossible to purchase them even
at that price.
Gang'-sa music consists of two things -- rhythm and crude harmony. Its
rhythm is perfect, but though there is an appreciation of harmony as
is seen in the recognition of, we may say, the "tenor" and "bass"
tones of co-ong'-an and ka'-los, respectively, yet in the actual
music the harmony is lost sight of by the American.
In Bontoc the gang'-sa is held vertically in the hand by a cord passing
through two holes in the rim, and the cord usually has a human lower
jaw attached to facilitate the grip. As the instrument thus hangs
free in front of the player (always a man or boy) it is beaten on the
outer surface with a short padded stick like a miniature bass-drum
stick. There is no gang'-sa music without the accompanying dance,
and there is no dance unaccompanied by music. A gang'-sa or a tin
can put in the hands of an Igorot boy is always at once productive
of music and dance.
The rhythm of Igorot gang'-sa music is different from most primitive
music I have heard either in America or Luzon. The player beats 4/4
time, with the accent on the third beat. Though there may be twenty
gang'-sa in the dance circle a mile distant, yet the regular pulse
and beat of the third count is always the prominent feature of the
sound. The music is rapid, there being from fifty-eight to sixty full
4/4 counts per minute.
It is impossible for me to represent Igorot music, instrumental
or vocal, in any adequate manner, but I may convey a somewhat
clearer impression of the rhythm if I attempt to represent it
mathematically. It must be kept in mind that all the gang'-sa are
beaten regularly and in perfect time -- there is no such thing as
The gang'-sa is struck at each italicized count, and each unitalicized
count represents a rest, the accent represents the accented beat
of the gang'-sa. The ka'-los is usually beaten without accent and
without rest. Its beats are 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1,
2, 3, 4; etc. The co-ong'-an is usually beaten with both accent and
rest. It is generally as follows: 1, 2, 3', 4; 1, 2, 3', 4; 1, 2,
3', 4; 1, 2, 3', 4; etc. Sometimes, however, only the first count
and again the first and second counts are struck on the individual
co-ong'-an, but there is no accent unless the third is struck. Thus
it is sometimes as follows: 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1,
2, 3, 4; etc.; and again 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2,
3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; etc. However, the impression the hearer receives
from a group of players is always of four rapid beats, the third one
being distinctly accented. A considerable volume of sound is produced
by the gang'-sa of the central part of the area; it may readily be
heard a mile, if beaten in the open air.
In pueblos toward the western part of the area, as in Balili, Alap,
and their neighbors, the instrument is played differently and the
sound carries only a few rods. Sometimes the player sits in very
un-Malayan manner, with legs stretched out before him, and places
the gang'-sa bottom up on his lap. He beats it with the flat of both
hands, producing the rhythmic pulse by a deadening or smothering of a
beat. Again the gang'-sa is held in the air, usually as high as the
face, and one or two soft beats, just a tinkle, of the 4/4 time are
struck on the inside of the gang'-sa by a small, light stick. Now
and then the player, after having thoroughly acquired the rhythm,
clutches the instrument under his arm for a half minute while he
continues his dance in perfect time and rhythm.
The lover's "jews'-harp," made both of bamboo and of brass, is found
throughout the Bontoc area. It is played near to and in the olag
wherein the sweetheart of the young man is at the time. The instrument,
called in Bontoc "ab-a'-fu," is apparently primitive Malayan, and is
found widespread in the south seas and Pacific Ocean.
The brass instrument, the only kind I ever saw in use except as
a semitoy in the hands of small boys, is from 2 to 3 inches in
length, and has a tongue, attached at one end, cut from the middle
of the narrow strip of metal. (The Igorot make the ab-a'-fu of
metal cartridges.) A cord is tied to the instrument at the end at
which the tongue is attached, and this the player jerks to vibrate
the tongue. The instrument is held at the mouth, is lightly clasped
between the lips, and, as the tongue vibrates, the player breathes a
low, soft tune through the instrument. One must needs get within 2 or
3 feet of the player to catch the music, but I must say after hearing
three or four men play by the half hour, that they produce tunes the
theme of which seems to me to bespeak a genuine musical taste.
I have seen a few crude bamboo flutes in the hands of young men,
but none were able to play them. I believe they are of Ilokano
A long wooden drum, hollow and cannon-shaped, and often 3 feet and
more long and about 8 inches in diameter, is common in Benguet, and
is found in Lepanto, but is not found or known in Bontoc. A skin
stretched over the large end of the drum is beaten with the flat
of the hands to accompany the music of the metal drums or gang'-sa,
also played with the flat of the hands, as described, in pueblos near
the western border of Bontoc area.
The Igorot has vocal music, but in no way can I describe it -- to say
nothing of writing it. I tried repeatedly to write the words of the
songs, but failed even in that. The chief cause of failure is that the
words must be sung -- even the singers failed to repeat the songs word
after word as they repeat the words of their ordinary speech. There
are accents, rests, lengthened sounds, sounds suddenly cut short --
in fact, all sorts of vocal gymnastics that clearly defeated any
effort to "talk" the songs. I believe many of the songs are wordless;
they are mere vocalizations -- the "tra la la" of modern vocal music;
they may be the first efforts to sing.
I was told repeatedly that there are four classes of songs, and only
four. The mang-ay-u-weng', the laborer's song, is sung in the field
and trail. The mang-ay-yeng' is said to be the class of songs rendered
at all ceremonies, though I believe the doleful funeral songs are of
another class. The mang-ay-lu'-kay and the ting-ao' I know nothing
of except in name.
Most of the songs seem serious. I never heard a mother or other person
singing to a babe. However, boys and young men, friends with locked
arms or with arms over shoulders, often sing happy songs as they walk
along together. They often sing in "parts," and the music produced
by a tenor and a bass voice as they sing their parts in rhythm, and
with very apparent appreciation of harmony, is fascinating and often
The Bontoc Igorot dances in a circle, and he follows the circle
contraclockwise. There is no dancing without gang'-sa music, and it
is seldom that a man dances unless he plays a gang'-sa. The dance
step is slower than the beats on the gang'-sa; there is one complete
"step" to every full 4/4 count. At times the "step" is simply a
high-stepping slow run, really a springing prance. Again it is a
hitching movement with both feet close to the earth, and one foot
behind the other. The line of dancers, well shown in Pls. CXXXI, CLI,
and CLII, passes slowly around the circle, now and again following
the leader in a spiral movement toward the center of the circle and
then uncoiling backward from the center to the path. Now and again
the line moves rapidly for half the distance of the circumference,
and then slowly backs a short distance, and again it all but stops
while the men stoop forward and crouch stealthily along as though in
ambush, creeping on an enemy. In all this dancing there is perfect
rhythm in music and movements. There is no singing or even talking --
the dance is a serious but pleasurable pastime for those participating.
As is shown also by the illustrations, the women dance. They throw
their blankets about them and extend their arms, usually clutching
tobacco leaves in either hand -- which are offerings to the old men and
which some old man frequently passes among them and collects -- and
they dance with less movement of the feet than do the men. Generally
the toes scarcely leave the earth, though a few of the older women
invariably dance with a high movement and backward pawing of one foot
which throws the dust and gravel over all behind them. I have more than
once seen the dance circle a cloud of dust raised by one pawing woman,
and the people at the margin of the circle dodging the gravel thrown
back, yet they only laughed and left the woman to pursue her peculiar
and discomforting "step." The dancing women are generally immediately
outside the circle, and from them the rhythm spreads to the spectators
until a score of women are dancing on their toes where they stand
among the onlookers, and little girls everywhere are imitating their
mothers. The rhythmic music is fascinating, and one always feels out
of place standing stiff legged in heavy, hobnailed shoes among the
pulsating, rhythmic crowd. Now and again a woman dances between two
men of the line, forcing her way to the center of the circle. She is
usually more spectacular than those about the margin, and frequently
holds in her hand her camote stick or a ball of bark-fiber thread
which she has spun for making skirts. I once saw such a dancer carry
the long, heavy wooden pestle used in pounding out rice.
A few times I have seen men dance in the center of the circle somewhat
as the women do, but with more movement, with a balancing and tilting
of the body and especially of the arms, and with rapid trembling
and quivering of the hands. The most spectacular dance is that of
the man who dances in the circle brandishing a head-ax. He is shown
in Pls. CLII and CLIII. At all times his movements are in perfect
sympathy and rhythm with the music. He crouches around between the
dancers brandishing his ax, he deftly all but cuts off a hand here,
an arm or leg there, an ear yonder. He suddenly rushes forward and
grinningly feigns cutting off a man's head. He contorts himself in a
ludicrous yet often fiendish manner. This dance represents the height
of the dramatic as I have seen it in Igorot life. His is truly a
mimetic dance. His colleague with the spear and shield, who sometimes
dances on the outskirts of the circle, now charging a dancer and again
retreating, also produces a true mimetic and dramatic spectacle. This
is somewhat more than can be said of the dance of the women with the
camote sticks, pestles, and spun thread. The women in no way "act"
-- they simply purposely present the implements or products of their
labors, though in it all we see the real beginning of dramatic art.
Other areas, and other pueblos also, have different dances. In the
Benguet area the musicians sit on the earth and play the gang'-sa and
wooden drum while the dancers, a man and woman, pass back and forth
before them. Each dances independently, though the woman follows the
man. He is spectacular with from one to half a dozen blankets swinging
from his shoulders, arms, and hands.
Captain Chas. Nathorst, of Cervantes, has told me of a dance in
Lepanto, believed by him to be a funeral dance, in which men stand
abreast in a long line with arms on each other's shoulders. In this
position they drone and sway and occasionally paw the air with one
foot. There is little movement, and what there is is sluggish and
Cockfighting is the Philippine sport. Almost everywhere the natives
of the Archipelago have cockfights and horse races on holidays and
Sundays. They are also greatly addicted to the sport of gambling. The
Bontoc Igorot has none of the common pastimes or games of chance. This
fact is remarkable, because the modern Malayan is such a gamester.
Only in toil, war, and numerous ceremonials does the Bontoc man work
off his superfluous and emotional energy. One might naturally expect
to find Jack a dull boy, but he is not. His daily round of toil
seems quite sufficient to keep the steady accumulation of energy at
a natural poise, and his head-hunting offers him the greatest game
of skill and chance which primitive man has invented.
The Igorot has almost no formalities, the "etiquette" which one can
recognize as binding "form." When the American came to the Islands he
found the Christians exceedingly polite. The men always removed their
hats when they met him, the women always spoke respectfully, and some
tried to kiss his hand. Every house, its contents and occupants, to
which he might go was his to do with as he chose. Such characteristics,
however, seem not to belong to the primitive Malayan. The Igorot meets
you face to face and acts as though he considers himself your equal --
both you and he are men -- and he meets his fellows the same way.
When Igorot meet they do not greet each other with words, as most
modern people do. As an Igorot expressed it to me they are "all same
dog" when they meet. Sometimes, however, when they part, in passing
each other on the trial, one asks where the other is going.
The person with a load has the right of way in the trail, and others
stand aside as best they can.
There is commonly no greeting when a person comes to one's house,
nor is there a greeting between members of a family when one returns
home after an absence even of a week or more.
Children address their mothers as "I'-na," their word for mother,
and address their father as "A'-ma," their word for father. They do
this throughout life.
Igorot do not kiss or have other formal physical expression to show
affection between friends or relatives. Mothers do not kiss their
The Igorot has no formal or common expression of thankfulness. Whatever
gratitude he feels must be taken for granted, as he never expresses
it in words.
When an Igorot desires to beckon a person to him he, in common with the
other Malayans of the Archipelago, extends his arm toward the person
with the hand held prone, not supine as is the custom in America,
and closes the hand, also giving a slight inward movement of the hand
at the wrist. This manner of beckoning is universal in Luzon.
The hand is almost never used to point a direction. Instead, the head
is extended in the direction indicated -- not with a nod, but with
a thrusting forward of the face and a protruding of the open lips;
it is a true lip gesture. I have seen it practically everywhere in
the Islands, among pagans, Mohammedans, and Christians.
The basis of Igorot religion is every man's belief in the spirit
world -- the animism found widespread among primitive peoples. It is
the belief in the ever-present, ever-watchful a-ni'-to, or spirit
of the dead, who has all power for good or evil, even for life or
death. In this world of spirits the Igorot is born and lives; there
he constantly entreats, seeks to appease, and to cajole; in a mild
way he threatens, and he always tries to avert; and there at last he
surrenders to the more than matchful spirits, whose numbers he joins,
and whose powers he acquires.
All things have an invisible existence as well as a visible, material
one. The Igorot does not explain the existence of earth, water, fire,
vegetation, and animals in invisible form, but man's invisible form,
man's spirit, is his speech. During the life of a person his spirit is
called "ta'-ko." After death the spirit receives a new name, though
its nature is unchanged, and it goes about in a body invisible to
the eye of man yet unchanged in appearance from that of the living
person. There seems to be no idea of future rewards or punishments,
though they say a bad a-ni'-to is sometimes driven away from the
The spirit of all dead persons is called "a-ni'-to" -- this is the
general name for the soul of the dead. However, the spirits of certain
dead have a specific name. Pin-teng' is the name of the a-ni'-to of
a beheaded person; wul-wul is the name of the a-ni'-to of deaf and
dumb persons -- it is evidently an onomatopoetic word. And wong-ong
is the name of the a-ni'-to of an insane person. Fu-ta-tu is a bad
a-ni'-to, or the name applied to the a-ni'-to which is supposed to
be ostracized from respectable a-ni'-to society.
Besides these various forms of a-ni'-to or spirits, the body itself
is also sometimes supposed to have an existence after death. Li-mum'
is the name of the spiritual form of the human body. Li-mum' is seen at
times in the pueblo and frequently enters habitations, but it is said
never to cause death or accident. Li-mum' may best be translated by
the English term "ghost," although he has a definite function ascribed
to the rather fiendish "nightmare" -- that of sitting heavily on the
breast and stomach of a sleeper.
The ta'-ko, the soul of the living man, is a faithful servant of man,
and, though accustomed to leave the body at times, it brings to the
person the knowledge of the unseen spirit life in which the Igorot
constantly lives. In other words, the people, especially the old men,
dream dreams and see visions, and these form the meshes of the net
which has caught here and there stray or apparently related facts
from which the Igorot constructs much of his belief in spirit life.
The immediate surroundings of every Igorot group is the home of the
a-ni'-to of departed members of the group, though they do not usually
live in the pueblo itself. Their dwellings, sementeras, pigs, chickens,
and carabaos -- in fact, all the possessions the living had -- are
scattered about in spirit form, in the neighboring mountains. There the
great hosts of the a-ni'-to live, and there they reproduce, in spirit
form, the life of the living. They construct and live in dwellings,
build and cultivate sementeras, marry, and even bear children;
and eventually, some of them, at least, die or change their forms
again. The Igorot do not say how long an a-ni'-to lives, and they
have not tried to answer the question of the final disposition of
a-ni'-to, but in various ceremonials a-ni'-to of several generations
of ancestors are invited to the family feast, so the Igorot does not
believe that the a-ni'-to ceases, as an a-ni'-to, in what would be
the lifetime of a person.
When an a-ni'-to dies or changes its form it may become a snake --
and the Igorot never kills a snake, except if it bothers about his
dwelling; or it may become a rock -- there is one such a-ni'-to rock
on the mountain horizon north of Bontoc; but the most common form for
a dead a-ni'-to to take is li'-fa, the phosphorescent glow in the
dead wood of the mountains. Why or how these various changes occur
the Igorot does not understand.
In many respects the dreamer has seen the a-ni'-to world in great
detail. He has seen that a-ni'-to are rich or poor, old or young,
as were the persons at death, and yet there is progression, such
as birth, marriage, old age, and death. Each man seems to know in
what part of the mountains his a-ni'-to will dwell, because some one
of his ancestors is known to inhabit a particular place, and where
one ancestor is there the children go to be with him. This does not
refer to desirability of location, but simply to physical location --
as in the mountain north of Bontoc, or in one to the east or south.
As was stated in a previous chapter, with the one exception of
toothache, all injuries, diseases, and deaths are caused directly by
a-ni'-to. In certain ceremonies the ancestral a-ni'-to, are urged
to care for living descendants, to protect them from a-ni'-to that
seek to harm -- and children are named after their dead ancestors,
so they may be known and receive protection. In the pueblo, the
sementeras, and the mountains one knows he is always surrounded by
a-ni'-to. They are ever ready to trip one up, to push him off the
high stone sementera dikes or to visit him with disease. When one
walks alone in the mountain trail he is often aware that an a-ni'-to
walks close beside him; he feels his hair creeping on his scalp, he
says, and thus he knows of the a-ni'-to's presence. The Igorot has a
particular kind of spear, the sinalawitan, having two or more pairs
of barbs, of which the a-ni'-to is afraid; so when a man goes alone
in the mountains with the sinalawitan he is safer from a-ni'-to than
he is with any other spear.
The Igorot does not say that the entire spirit world, except his
relatives, is against him, and he does not blame the spirits for the
evils they inflict on him -- it is the way things are -- but he acts
as though all are his enemies, and he often entreats them to visit
their destruction on other pueblos. It is safe to say that one feast
is held daily in Bontoc by some family to appease or win the good
will of some a-ni'-to.
At death the spirit of a beheaded person, the pin-teng', goes above
to chayya, the sky. The old men are very emphatic in this belief. They
always point to the surrounding mountains as the home of the a-ni'-to,
but straight above to chayya, the sky, as the home of the spirit of the
beheaded. The old men say the pin-teng' has a head of flames. There
in the sky the pin-teng' repeat the life of those living in the
pueblo. They till the soil and they marry, but the society is exclusive
-- there are none there except those who lost their heads to the enemy.
The pin-teng' is responsible for the death of every person who
loses his head. He puts murder in the minds of all men who are to
be successful in taking heads. He also sees the outrages of warfare,
and visits vengeance on those who kill babes and small children.
In his relations with the unseen spirit world the Igorot has certain
visible, material friends that assist him by warnings of good and
evil. When a chicken is killed its gall is examined, and, if found to
be dark colored, all is well; if it is light, he is warned of some
pending evil in spirit form. Snakes, rats, crows, falling stones,
crumbling earth, and the small reddish-brown omen bird, i'-chu,
all warn the Igorot of pending evil.
Since the anito is the cause of all bodily afflictions the chief
function of the person who battles for the health of the afflicted
is that of the exorcist, rather than that of the therapeutist.
Many old men and women, known as "in-sup-ak'," are considered more or
less successful in urging the offending anito to leave the sick. Their
formula is simple. They place themselves near the afflicted part,
usually with the hand stroking it, or at least touching it, and say,
"Anito, who makes this person sick, go away." This they repeat over
and over again, mumbling low, and frequently exhaling the breath to
assist the departure of the anito -- just as, they say, one blows
away the dust; but the exhalation is an open-mouthed outbreathing,
and not a forceful blowing. One of our house boys came home from
a trip to a neighboring pueblo with a bad stone bruise for which
an anito was responsible. For four days he faithfully submitted to
flaxseed poultices, but on the fifth day we found a woman in-sup-ak'
at her professional task in the kitchen. She held the sore foot
in her lap, and stroked it; she murmured to the anito to go away;
she bent low over the foot, and about a dozen times she well feigned
vomiting, and each time she spat out a large amount of saliva. At no
time could purposeful exhalations be detected, and no explanation of
her feigned vomiting could be gained. It is not improbable that when
she bent over the foot she was supposed to be inhaling or swallowing
the anito which she later sought to cast from her. In half an hour
she succeeded in "removing" the offender, but the foot was "sick"
for four days longer, or until the deep-seated bruise discharged
through a scalpel opening. The woman unquestionably succeeded in
relieving the boy's mind.
When a person is ill at his home he sends for an in-sup-ak', who
receives for a professional visit two manojos of palay, or two-fifths
of a laborer's daily wage. In-sup-ak' are not appointed or otherwise
created by the people, as are most of the public servants. They are
notified in a dream that they are to be in-sup-ak'.
As compared with the medicine man of some primitive peoples the
in-sup-ak' is a beneficial force to the sick. The methods are all
quiet and gentle; there is none of the hubbub or noise found in the
Indian lodge -- the body is not exhausted, the mind distracted, or
the nerves racked. In a positive way the sufferer's mind receives
comfort and relief when the anito is "removed," and in most cases
probably temporary, often permanent, physical relief results from
the stroking and rubbing.
The man or woman of each household acts as mediator between any sick
member of the family and the offending anito. There are several of
these household ceremonials performed to benefit the afflicted.
If one was taken ill or was injured at any particular place in the
mountains near the pueblo, the one in charge of the ceremony goes to
that place with a live chicken in a basket, a small amount of basi
(a native fermented drink), and usually a little rice, and, pointing
with a stick in various directions, says the Wa-chao'-wad or Ay'-ug
si a-fi'-ik ceremony -- the ceremony of calling the soul. It is
"A-li-ka' ab a-fi'-ik Ba-long'-long en-ta-ko' is a'-fong sang'-fu." The
translation is: "Come, soul of Ba-long'-long; come with us to the
house to feast." The belief is that the person's spirit is being
enticed and drawn away by an anito. If it is not called back shortly,
it will depart permanently.
The following ceremony, called "ka-taol'," is said near the river,
as the other is in the mountains:
"A-li-ka' ta-en-ta-ko is a'-fong ta-ko' tay la-ting' is'-na." Freely
translated this is: "Come, come with us into the house, because it
is cold here."
A common sight in the Igorot pueblo or in the trails leading out is a
man or woman, more frequently the latter, carrying the small chicken
basket, the tube of basi, and the short stick, going to the river or
the mountains to perform this ceremony for the sick.
After either of these ceremonies the person returns to the dwelling,
kills, cooks, and, with other members of the family, eats the chicken.
For those very ill and apparently about to die there is another
ceremony, called "a'-fat," and it never fails in its object, they
affirm -- the afflicted always recovers. Property equal to a full
year's wages is taken outside the pueblo to the spot where the
affliction was received, if it is known, and the departing soul is
invited to return in exchange for the articles displayed. They take a
large hog which is killed where the ceremony is performed; they take
also a large blue-figured blanket -- the finest blanket that comes
to the pueblo -- a battle-ax and spear, a large pot of "preserved"
meat, the much-prized woman's bustle-like girdle, and, last, a live
chicken. When the hog is killed the person in charge of the ceremony
says: "Come back, soul of the afflicted, in trade for these things."
All then return to the sick person's dwelling, taking with them the
possessions just offered to the soul. At the house they cook the hog,
and all eat of it; as those who assisted in the ceremony go to their
own dwellings they carry each a dish of the cooked pork.
The next day, since the afflicted person does not die, they have
another ceremony, called "mang-mang," in the house of the sick. A
chicken is killed, and the following ceremonial is spoken from the
center of the house:
"The sick person is now well. May the food become abundant; may the
chickens, pigs, and rice fruit heads be large. Bring the battle-ax to
guard the door. Bring the winnowing tray to serve the food; and bring
the wisp of palay straw to sweep away the many words spoken near us."
For certain sick persons no ceremony is given for recovery. They are
those who are stricken with death, and the Igorot claims to know a
fatal affliction when it comes.
Lumawig, the Supreme Being
The Igorot has personified the forces of nature. The personification
has become a single person, and to-day this person is one god,
Lu-ma'-wig. Over all, and eternal, so far as the Igorot understands,
is Lu-ma'-wig -- Lu-ma'-wig, who had a part in the beginning of all
things; who came as a man to help the survivors and perpetuators
of Bontoc; who later came as a man to teach the people whom he had
befriended, and who still lives to care for them. Lu-ma'-wig is the
greatest of spirits, dwelling above in chayya, the sky. All prayers
for fruitage and increase -- of men, of animals, and of crops --
all prayers for deliverance from the fierce forces of the physical
world are made to him; and once each month the pa'-tay ceremony,
entreating Lu-ma'-wig for fruitage and health, is performed for
the pueblo group by an hereditary class of men called "pa'-tay -- a
priesthood in process of development. Throughout the Bontoc culture
area Lu-ma'-wig, otherwise known but less frequently spoken of as
Fu'-ni and Kam-bun'-yan, is the supreme being. Scheerer says the
Benguet Igorot call their "god" Ka-bu-ni'-an -- the same road as
In the beginning of all things Lu-ma'-wig had a part. The Igorot
does not know how or why it is so, but he says that Lu-ma'-wig gave
the earth with all its characteristics, the water in its various
manifestations, the people, all animals, and all vegetation. To-day
he is the force in all these things, as he always has been.
Once, in the early days, the lower lands about Bontoc were covered
with water. Lu-ma'-wig saw two young people on top of Mount Po'-kis,
north of Bontoc. They were Fa-tang'-a and his sister Fu'-kan. They
were without fire, as all the fires of Bontoc were put out by
the water. Lu-ma'-wig told them to wait while he went quickly to
Mount Ka-lo-wi'-tan, south of Bontoc, for fire. When he returned
Fu'-kan was heavy with child. Lu-ma'-wig left them, going above
as a bird flies. Soon the child was born, the water subsided in
Bontoc pueblo, and Fa-tang'-a with his sister and her babe returned
to the pueblo. Children came to the household rapidly and in great
numbers. Generation followed generation, and the people increased
After a time Lu-ma'-wig decided to come to help and teach the
Igorot. He first stopped on Ka-lo-wi'-tan Mountain, and from there
looked over the young women of Sabangan, searching for a desirable
wife, but he was not pleased with the girls of Sabangan because they
had short hair. He next visited Alap, but the young women of that
pueblo were sickly; so he came on to Tulubin. There the marriageable
girls were afflicted with goiter. He next stopped at Bontoc, where he
saw two young women, sisters, in a garden. Lu-ma'-wig came to them and
sat down. Presently he asked why they did not go to the house. They
answered that they must work; they were gathering beans. Lu-ma'-wig
was pleased with this, so he picked one bean of each variety, tossed
them into the baskets -- when presently the baskets were filled to the
rim. He married Fu'-kan, the younger of the two industrious sisters,
and namesake of the mother of the people of Bontoc.
After marriage he lived at Chao'-wi, in the present ato of Sigichan,
near the center of Bontoc pueblo. The large, flat stones which were
once part of Lu-ma'-wig's dwelling are still lying in position,
and are shown in Pl. CLIII.
Lu-ma'-wig at times exhibited his marvelous powers. They say he could
take a small chicken, feed it a few grains of rice, and in an hour
it would be full grown. He could fill a basket with rice in a very
few moments, simply by putting in a handful of kernels. He could cut
a stick of wood in the mountains, and with one hand toss it to his
dwelling in the pueblo. Once when out in I-shil' Mountains northeast
of Bontoc, Fa-tang'-a, the brother-in-law of Lu-ma'-wig, said to him,
"Oh, you of no value! Here we are without water to drink. Why do you
not give us water?" Lu-ma'-wig said nothing, but he turned and thrust
his spear in the side of the mountain. As he withdrew the weapon a
small stream of water issued from the opening. Fa-tang'-a started to
drink, but Lu-ma'-wig said, "Wait; the others first; you last." When
it came Fa-tang'-a's turn to drink, Lu-ma'-wig put his hand on him as
he drank and pushed him solidly into the mountain. He became a rock,
and the water passed through him. Several of the old men of Bontoc
have seen this rock, now broken by others fallen on it from above,
but the stream of water still flows on the thirsty mountain.
In an isolated garden, called "fil-lang'," now in ato Chakong,
Lu-ma'-wig taught Bontoc how best to plant, cultivate, and garner her
various agricultural products. Fil-lang' to-day is a unique little
sementera. It is the only garden spot within the pueblo containing
water. The pueblo is so situated that irrigating water can not be
run into it, but throughout the dry season of 1903 -- the dryest
for years in Bontoc -- there was water in at least a fourth of this
little garden. There is evidently a very small. but perpetual spring
within the plat. Taro now occupies the garden and is weeded and
gathered by Na-wit', an old man chosen by the old men of the pueblo
for this office. Na-wit' maintains and the Igorot believe that the
vegetable springs up without planting. As the watering of fil-lang'
is through the special dispensation of Lu-ma'-wig, so the taro left
by him in his garden school received from him a peculiar lease of
life -- it is perpetual. The people claim that all other taro beds
must be planted annually.
Lu-ma'-wig showed the people how to build the fawi and pabafunan,
and with his help those of Lowingan and Sipaat were constructed. He
also told them their purposes and uses. He gave the people names for
many of the things about them; he also gave the pueblo its name.
He gave them advice regarding conduct -- a crude code of ethics. He
told them not to lie, because good men do not care to associate with
liars. He said they should not steal, but all people should take
care to live good and honest lives. A man should have only one wife;
if he had more, his life would soon be required of him. The home
should be kept pure; the adulterer should not violate it; all should
be as brothers.
As has been previously said, the people of Bontoc claim that they
did not go to war or kill before Lu-ma'-wig came.
They say no Igorot ever divorced a wife who bore him a child, yet
they accuse Lu-ma'-wig of such conduct, but apparently seek to excuse
the act by saying that at the time he was partially insane. Fu'-kan,
Lu-ma'-wig's wife, bore him several children. One day she spoke very
disrespectfully to him. This change of attitude on her part somewhat
unbalanced him, and he put her with two of her little boys in a large
coffin, and set them afloat on the river. He securely fastened the
cover of the coffin, and on either end tied a dog and a cock. The
coffin floated downstream unobserved as far as Tinglayan. There the
barking of the dog and the crowing of the cock attracted the attention
of a man who rushed out into the river with his ax to secure such a
fine lot of pitch-pine wood. When he struck his ax in the wood a voice
called from within, "Don't do that; I am here." Then the man opened the
coffin and saw the woman and children. The man said his wife was dead,
and the woman asked whether he wanted her for a wife. He said he did,
so she became his wife.
After a time the children wanted to return to Bontoc to see their
father. Before they started their mother instructed them to follow
the main river, but when they arrived at the mouth of a tributary
stream they became confused, and followed the river leading them
to Kanyu. There they asked for their father, but the people killed
them and cut them up. Presently they were alive again, and larger
than before. They killed them again and again. After they had come
to life seven times they were full-grown men; but the eighth time
Kanyu killed them they remained dead. Bontoc went for their bodies,
and told Kanyu that, because they killed the children of Lu-ma'-wig,
their children would always be dying -- and to-day Bontoc points
to the fewness of the houses which make up Kanyu. The bodies were
buried close to Bontoc on the west and northwest; scarcely were
they interred when trees began to grow upon and about the graves --
they were the transformed bodies of Lu-ma'-wig's children. The Igorot
never cut trees in the two small groves nearby the pueblo, but once a
year they gather the fallen branches. They say that a Spaniard once
started to cut one of the trees, but he had struck only a few blows
when he was suddenly taken sick. His bowels bloated and swelled and
he died in a few minutes.
These two groves are called "Pa-pa-tay'" and "Pa-pa-tay' ad So-kok',"
the latter one shown in Pl. CLIV. Each is said to be a man, but among
some of the old men the one farthest to the north is now said to be a
woman. The reason they assign for now calling one a woman is because
it is situated lower down on the mountain than the other. They are
held sacred, and the monthly religious ceremonial of patay is observed
beneath their trees.
It seems that Lu-ma'-wig soon became irritated and jealous, because
Fu'-kan was the wife of another man, and he sent word forbidding her
to leave her house. About this time the warriors of Tinglayan returned
from a head-hunting expedition. When Fu'-kan heard their gongs and knew
all the pueblo was dancing, she danced alone in the house. Soon those
outside felt the ground trembling. They looked and saw that the house
where Fu'-kan lived was trembling and swaying. The women hastened
to unfortunate Fu'-kan and brought her out of the house. However,
in coming out she had disobeyed Lu-ma'-wig, and shortly she died.
Lu-ma'-wig's work was ended. He took three of his children with
him to Mount Po'-kis, on the northern horizon of Bontoc, and from
there the four passed above into the sky as birds fly. His two other
children wished to accompany him, but he denied them the request; and
so they left Bontoc and journeyed westward to Loko (Ilokos Provinces)
because, they said, if they remained, they would die. What became of
these two children is not known; neither is it known whether those
who went above are alive now; but Lu-ma'-wig is still alive in the
sky and is still the friendly god of the Igorot, and is the force in
all the things with which he originally had to do.
Throughout the Bontoc culture area Lu-ma'-wig is the one and only
god of the people. Many said that he lived in Bontoc, and, so far as
known, they hold the main facts of the belief in him substantially
as do the people of his own pueblo.
"Changers" in religion
In the western pueblos of Alap, Balili, Genugan, Takong, and Sagada
there has been spreading for the past two years a changing faith. The
people allying themselves with the new faith call themselves
"Su-pa-la'-do," and those who speak Spanish say they are "guardia
The Su-pa-la'-do continue to eat meat, but wash and cleanse it
thoroughly before cooking. They are said also not to hold any of the
ceremonials associated with the old faith. They keep a white flag
flying from a pole near their dwelling, or at least one such flag
in the section of the pueblo in which they reside. They also believe
that Lu-ma'-wig will return to them in the near future.
A Tinguian man of the pueblo of Pay-yao', Lepanto, a short journey
from Agawa, in Bontoc, is said to be the leading spirit in this faith
of the "guardia de honor." It is believed to be a movement taking
its rise from the restless Roman Catholic Ilokano of the coast.
In Bontoc pueblo the thought of the return of Lu-ma'-wig is laughed
at. The people say that if Lu-ma'-wig was to return they would
know of it. However, two families in Bontoc, one that of Finumti,
the tattooer, and the other that of Kayyad, a neighbor of Finumti,
have a touch of a changing faith. They are known in Bontoc as O-lot'.
I was not able to trace any connection between the O-lot' and the
Su-pa-la'-do, though I presume there is some connection; but I learned
of the O-lot' only during the last few days of my stay in Bontoc. The
O-lot' are said not to eat meat, not to kill chickens, not to smoke,
and not to perform any of the old ceremonies. However, I do not believe
they or in fact the Su-pa-la'-do neglect all ceremonials, because
such a turning from a direct, positive, and very active religious
life to one of total neglect of the old religious ceremonials would
seem to be impossible for an otherwise normal Igorot.
That the belief in spirits is the basis of Igorot religion is shown in
the fact that each person or each household has the necessary power
and knowledge to intercede with the anito. No class of persons has
been differentiated for this function, excepting the limited one of
the dream-appointed insupak or anito exorcists.
That belief in a supreme being is a later development than the belief
in spirits is clear when the fact is known that a differentiated class
of persons has arisen whose duty it is to intercede with Lumawig for
the people as a whole.
This religious intercessor has few of the earmarks of a priest. He
teaches no morals or ethics, no idea of future rewards or punishments,
and he is not an idle, nonproductive member of the group. He usually
receives for the consumption of his family the food employed in the
ceremonies to Lumawig, but this would not sustain the family one week
in the fifty-two. The term "priesthood" is applied to these people
for lack of a better one, and because its use is sufficiently accurate
to serve the present purpose.
There are three classes of persons who stand between the people
and Lumawig, and to-day all hold an hereditary office. The first
class is called "Wa-ku'," of which there are three men, namely,
Fug-ku-so', of ato Somowan, Fang-u-wa', of ato Lowingan, and
Cho-Iug', of ato Sigichan. The function of these men is to decide
and announce the time of all rest days and ceremonials for the
pueblo. These Wa-ku' inform the old men of each ato, and they in turn
announce the days to the ato. The small boys, however, are the true
"criers." They make more noise in the evening before the rest day,
crying "Teng-ao'! whi! teng-ao'!" ("Rest day! hurrah! rest day!"),
than I have heard from the pueblo at any other time.
The title of the second class of intercessors is "Pa'-tay," of whom
there are two in Bontoc -- Kad-lo'-san, of ato Somowan, and Fi'-Iug,
of ato Longfoy.
The Pa'-tay illustrate the nature of the titles borne by all the
intercessors. The title is the same as the name of the ceremony or
one of the ceremonies which the person performs.
Once every new moon each Pa'-tay performs the pa'-tay ceremony in
the sacred grove near the pueblo. This ceremony is for the general
well-being of the pueblo.
The third class of intercessors has duties of a two-fold nature. One
is to allay the rain and wind storms, called "baguios," and to drive
away the cold; and the other is to petition for conditions favorable
to crops. There are seven of these men, and each has a distinct
title. All are apparently of equal importance to the group.
Le-yod', of ato Lowingan, whose title is "Ka-lob'," has charge
of the ka-lob' ceremony held once or twice each year to allay the
baguios. Ang'-way, of ato Somowan, whose title is "Chi-nam'-wi,"
presides over the chi-nam'-wi ceremony to drive away the cold
and fog. This ceremony usually occurs once or twice each year
in January, February, or March. He also serves once each year in
the fa-kil' ceremony for rain. Cham-lang'-an, of ato Filig, has
the title "Po-chang'," and he has one annual ceremony for large
palay. A fifth intercessor is Som-kad', of ato Sipaat; his title is
"Su'-wat." He performs two ceremonies annually -- one, the su'-wat,
for palay fruitage, and the other a fa-kil' for rains. Ong-i-yud',
of ato Fatayyan, is known by the title of "Ke'-eng." He has two
ceremonies annually, one ke'-eng and the other tot-o-lod'; both
are to drive the birds and rats from the fruiting palay. Som-kad',
of ato Sigichan, with the title "O-ki-ad'," has charge of three
ceremonies annually. One is o-ki-ad', for the growth of beans;
another is los-kod', for abundant camotes, and the third is fa-kil',
the ceremony for rain. There are four annual fa-kil' ceremonies,
and each is performed by a different person.
Teng-ao' is the sacred day, the rest day, of Bontoc. It occurs on
an average of about every ten days throughout the year, though there
appears to be no definite regularity in its occurrence. The old men
of the two ato of Lowingan and Sipaat determine when teng-ao' shall
occur, and it is a day observed by the entire pueblo.
The day is publicly announced in the pueblo the preceding evening. If
a person goes to labor in the fields on a sacred day -- not having
heard the announcement, or in disregard of it -- he is fined for
"breaking the Sabbath." The old men of each ato discover those who have
disobeyed the pueblo law by working in the field, and they announce the
names to the old men of Lowingan and Sipaat, who promptly take from the
lawbreaker firewood or rice or a small chicken to the value of about 10
cents, or the wage of two days. March 3, 1903, was teng-ao' in Bontoc,
and I saw ten persons fined for working. The fines are expended in
buying chickens and pigs for the pa'-tay ceremonies of the pueblo.
A residence of five months among a primitive people about whom no
scientific knowledge existed previously is evidently so scant for
a study of ceremonial life that no explanation should be necessary
here. However, I wish to say that no claim is made that the following
short presentation is complete -- in fact, I know of several ceremonies
by name about which I can not speak at all with certainty. Time was
also insufficient to get accurate translations of all ceremonial
utterances which are here presented.
There is great absence of formalism in uttering ceremonies, scarcely
two persons speak exactly the same words, though I believe the purport
of each ceremony, as uttered by two people, to be the same. This
looseness may be due in part to the absence of a developed cult having
the ceremonies in charge from generation to generation.
Ceremonies connected with agriculture
This ceremony is performed at the close of the period Pa-chog',
the period when rice seed is put in the germinating beds.
It is claimed there is no special oral ceremony for Po-chang'. The
proceeding is as follows: On the first day after the completion of
the period Pa-chog' the regular monthly Pa'-tay ceremony is held. On
the second day the men of ato Sigichan, in which ato Lumawig resided
when he lived in Bontoc, prepare a bunch of runo as large around as
a man's thigh. They call this the "cha-nug'," and store it away in
the ato fawi, and outside the fawi set up in the earth twenty or more
runo, called "pa-chi'-pad -- the pud-pud' of the harvest field.
The bunch of runo is for a constant reminder to Lumawig to make the
young rice stalks grow large. The pa-chi'-pad are to prevent Igorot
from other pueblos entering the fawi and thus seeing the efficacious
bundle of runo.
During the ceremony of Lis-lis, at the close of the annual harvest of
palay, both the cha-nug' and the pa-chi'-pad are destroyed by burning.
On February 10, 1903, the rice having been practically all transplanted
in Bontoc, was begun the first of a five-day general ceremony for
abundant and good fruitage of the season's palay. It was at the close
of the period I-na-na'.
The ceremony of the first day is called "Su-yak'." Each group of kin --
all descendants of one man or woman who has no living ascendants --
kills a large hog and makes a feast. This day is said to be passed
without oral ceremony.
The ceremony of the second day was a double one. The first was called
"Wa-lit'" and the second "Mang'-mang." From about 9.30 until 11 in
the forenoon a person from each family -- usually a woman -- passed
slowly up the steep mountain side immediately west of Bontoc. These
people went singly and in groups of two to four, following trails to
points on the mountain's crest. Each woman carried a small earthen
pot in which was a piece of pork covered with basi. Each also carried
a chicken in an open-work basket, while tucked into the basket was a
round stick about 14 inches long and half an inch in diameter. This
stick, "lo'-lo," is kept in the family from generation to generation.
When the crest of the mountain was reached, each person in turn voiced
an invitation to her departed ancestors to come to the Mang'-mang
feast. She placed her olla of basi and pork over a tiny fire,
kindled by the first pilgrim to the mountain in the morning and fed
by each arrival. Then she took the chicken from her basket and faced
the west, pointing before her with the chicken in one hand and the
lo'-lo in the other. There she stood, a solitary figure, performing
her sacred mission alone. Those preceding her were slowly descending
the hot mountain side in groups as they came; those to follow her
were awaiting their turn at a distance beneath a shady tree. The fire
beside her sent up its thin line of smoke, bearing through the quiet
air the fragrance of the basi.
The woman invited the ancestral anito to the feast, saying:
"A-ni'-to ad Lo'-ko, su-ma-a-kay'-yo ta-in-mang-mang'-ta-ko
ta-ka-ka'-nen si mu'-teg." Then she faced the north and addressed the
spirit of her ancestors there: "A-ni'-to ad La'-god, su-ma-a-kay'-yo
ta-in-mang-mang'-ta-ko ta-ka-ka'-nen si mu'-teg." She faced the east,
gazing over the forested mountain ranges, and called to the spirits
of the past generation there: "A-ni'-to ad Bar'-lig su-ma-a-kay'-yo
ta-in-mang-mang'-ta-ko ta-ka-ka-nen si mu'-teg."
As she brought her sacred objects back down the mountain another
woman stood alone by the little fire on the crest.
The returning pilgrim now puts her fowl and her basi olla inside her
dwelling, and likely sits in the open air awaiting her husband as he
prepares the feast. Outside, directly in front of his door, he builds
a fire and sets a cooking olla over it. Then he takes the chicken from
its basket, and at his hands it meets a slow and cruel death. It is
held by the feet and the hackle feathers, and the wings unfold and
droop spreading. While sitting in his doorway holding the fowl in
this position the man beats the thin-fleshed bones of the wings with a
short, heavy stick as large around as a spear handle. The fowl cries
with each of the first dozen blows laid on, but the blows continue
until each wing has received fully half a hundred. The injured bird
is then laid on its back on a stone, while its head and neck stretch
out on the hard surface. Again the stick falls, cruelly, regularly,
this time on the neck. Up and down its length it is pummeled, and as
many as a hundred blows fall -- fall after the cries cease, after the
eyes close and open and close again a dozen times, and after the bird
is dead. The head receives a few sharp blows, a jet of blood spurts
out, and the ceremonial killing is past. The man, still sitting on
his haunches, still clasping the feet of the pendent bird, moves
over beside his fire, faces his dwelling, and voices the only words
of this strangely cruel scene. His eyes are open, his head unbending,
and he gazes before him as he earnestly asks a blessing on the people,
their pigs, chickens, and crops.
The old men say it is bad to cut off a chicken's head -- it is like
taking a human head, and, besides, they say that the pummeling makes
the flesh on the bony wings and neck larger and more abundant --
so all fowls killed are beaten to death.
After the oral part of the ceremony the fowl is held in the flames
till all its feathers are burned off. It is cut up and cooked in the
olla before the door of the dwelling, and the entire family eats of it.
Each family has the Mang'-mang ceremony, and so also has each
broken household if it possesses a sementera -- though a lone woman
calls in a man, who alone may perform the rite connected with the
ceremonial killing, and who must cook the fowl. A lone man needs no
Though the ancestral anito are religiously bidden to the feast,
the people eat it all, no part being sacrificed for these invisible
guests. Even the small olla of basi is drunk by the man at the
beginning of the meal.
The rite of the third day is called "Mang-a-pu'-i." The sementeras of
growing palay are visited, and an abundant fruitage asked for. Early
in the morning some member of each household goes to the mountains
to get small sprigs of a plant named "pa-lo'-ki." Even as early as
7.30 the pa-lo'-ki had been brought to many of the houses, and the
people were scattering along the different trails leading to the
most distant sementeras. If the family owned many scattered fields,
the day was well spent before all were visited.
Men, women, and boys went to the bright-green fields of young palay,
each carrying the basket belonging to his sex. In the basket were
the sprigs of pa-lo'-ki, a small olla of water, a small wooden dish
or a basket of cooked rice, and a bamboo tube of basi or tapui. Many
persons had also several small pieces of pork and a chicken. As they
passed out of the pueblo each carried a tightly bound club-like torch
of burning palay straw; this would smolder slowly for hours.
On the stone dike of each sementera the owner paused to place three
small stones to hold the olla. The bundle of smoldering straw was
picked open till the breeze fanned a blaze; dry sticks or reeds
quickly made a small, smoking fire under the olla, in which was put
the pork or the chicken, if food was to be eaten there. Frequently,
too, if the smoke was low, a piece of the pork was put on a stick
punched into the soil of the sementera beside the fire and the smoke
enwrapped the meat and passed on over the growing field.
As soon as all was arranged at the fire a small amount of basi was
poured over a sprig of pa-lo'-ki which was stuck in the soil of the
sementera, or one or two sprigs were inserted, drooping, in a split
in a tall, green runo, and this was pushed into the soil. While the
person stood beside the efficacious pa-lo'-ki an invocation was voiced
to Lumawig to bless the crop.
The olla and piece of pork were at once put in the basket, and the
journey conscientiously continued to the next sementera. Only when
food was eaten at the sementera was the halt prolonged.
A-sig-ka-cho' is the name of the function of the fourth day. On that
day each household owning sementeras has a fish feast.
At that season of the year (February), while the water is low in
the river, only the very small, sluggish fish, called "kacho," is
commonly caught at Bontoc. Between 200 and 300 pounds of those fish,
only one in a hundred of which exceeded 2 1/2 inches in length,
were taken from the river during the three hours in the afternoon
when the ceremonial fishing was in progress.
Two large scoops, one shown in Pl. XLIX, were used to catch the
fish. They were a quarter of a mile apart in the river, and were
At the house the fish were cooked and eaten as is described in the
section on "Meals and mealtime."
When this fish meal was past the last observance of the fourth day
of the Cha'-ka ceremonial was ended.
The rite of the last day is called "Pa'-tay." It is observed by two
old Pa'-tay priests. Exactly at high noon Kad-lo'-san left his ato
carrying a chicken and a smoldering palay-straw roll in his hand, and
the unique basket, tak-fa', on his shoulder. He went unaccompanied and
apparently unnoticed to the small grove of trees, called "Pa-pa-tay'
ad So-kok'." Under the trees is a space some 8 or 10 feet across,
paved with flat rocks, and here the man squatted and put down his
basket. From it he took a two-quart olla containing water, a small
wooden bowl of cooked rice, a bottle of native cane sugar, and a
head-ax. He next kindled a blaze under the olla in a fireplace of
three stones already set up. Then followed the ceremonial killing
of the chicken, as described in the Mang'-mang rite of the second
day. With the scarcely dead fowl held before him the man earnestly
addressed a short supplication to Lumawig.
The fowl was then turned over and around in the flame until all its
feathers were burned off. Its crop was torn out with the fingers. The
ax was struck blade up solid in the ground, and the legs of the
chicken cut off from the body by drawing them over the sharp ax
blade, and they were put at once into the pot. An incision was cut
on each side of the neck, and the body torn quickly and neatly open,
with the wings still attached to the breast part. A glad exclamation
broke from the man when he saw that the gall of the fowl was dark
green. The intestines were then removed, ripped into a long string,
and laid in the basket. The back part of the fowl, with liver, heart,
and gizzard attached, went into the now boiling pot, and the breast
section followed it promptly. Three or four minutes after the bowl
of rice was placed immediately in front of the man, and the breast
part of the chicken laid in the bowl on the rice. Then followed these
words: "Now the gall is good, we shall live in the pueblo invulnerable
The breast was again put in the pot, and as the basket was packed up
in preparation for departure the anito of ancestors were invited to a
feast of chicken and rice in order that the ceremony might be blessed.
At the completion of this supplication the Pa'-tay shouldered his
basket and hastened homeward by a different route from which he came.
If a chicken is used in this rite it is cooked in the dwelling of
the priest and is eaten by the family. If a pig is used the old men
of the priest's ato consume it with him.
The performance of the rite of this last day is a critical half hour
for the town. If the gall of the fowl is white or whitish the palay
fruitage will be more or less of a failure. The crop last year was
such -- a whitish gall gave the warning. If a crow flies cawing over
the path of the Pa'-tay as he returns to his dwelling, or if the dogs
bark at him, many people will die in Bontoc. Three years ago a man
was killed by a falling bowlder shortly after noon on this last day's
ceremonial -- a flying crow had foretold the disaster. If an eagle
flies over the path, many houses will burn. Two years ago an eagle
warned the people, and in the middle of the day fifty or more houses
burned in Bontoc in the three ato of Pokisan, Luwakan, and Ungkan.
If none of these calamities are foretold, the anito enemies of Bontoc
are not revengeful, and the pueblo rests in contentment.
This ceremony, performed by Som-kad' of ato Sipaat, occurs in the
first period of the year, I-na-na'. The usual pig or chicken is
killed, and the priest says: "In-fi-kus'-na ay pa-ku' to-mo-no'-ka
ad chay'-ya." This is: "Fruit of the palay, grow up tall, even to
Ke'-eng ceremony is for the protection of the palay. Ong-i-yud',
of ato Fatayyan, is the priest for this occasion, and the ceremony
occurs when the first fruit heads appear on the growing rice. They
claim two good-sized hogs are killed on this day. Then Ong-i-yud'
takes a ki'-lao, the bird-shaped bird scarer, from the pueblo and
stealthily ducks along to the sementera where he suddenly erects the
scarer. Then he says:
Ti-lin' in kad La'-god yad Ap'-lay
Sik'-a o'-tot in lo-ko-lo'-ka nan fu-i'-mo.
Freely translated, this is --
Ti-lin' [the rice bird], you go away into the north country and the
You, rat, you go into your hole.
This ceremony, tot-o-lod', occurs on the day following ke'-eng,
and it is also for the protection of the rice crop. Ong-i-yud' is
the priest for both ceremonies.
The usual hog is killed, and then the priest ties up a bundle of palay
straw the size of his arm, and walks to the south side of the pueblo
"as though stalking deer in the tall grass." He suddenly and boldly
throws the bundle southward, suggesting that the birds and rats follow
in the same direction, and that all go together quickly.
This ceremony is recorded in the chapter on "Agriculture" in the
section on "Harvesting," page 103. It is simply referred to here
in the place where it would logically appear if it were not so
intimately connected with the harvesting that it could not be omitted
in presenting that phase of agriculture.
At the close of the rice harvest, at the beginning of the season
Li'-pas, the lis-lis ceremony is widely celebrated in the Bontoc
area. It consists, in Bontoc pueblo, of two parts. Each family cooks
a chicken in the fireplace on the second floor of the dwelling. This
part is called "cha-peng'." After the cha-peng' the public part of the
ceremony occurs. It is called "fug-fug'-to," and is said to continue
Fug-fug'-to in Bontoc is a man's rock fight between the men of Bontoc
and Samoki. The battle is in the broad bed of the river between the
two pueblos. The men go to the conflict armed with war shields, and
they pelt each other with rocks as seriously as in actual war. There
is a man now in Bontoc whose leg was broken in the conflict of 1901,
and three of our four Igorot servant boys had scalp wounds received
in lis-lis rock conflicts.
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