Headtaking

Headtaking was accounted for with much fascination during the 19th and early 20th century. Biased interpretations of headtaking have often depicted the Igorots and sometimes Filipinos as violent savage tribes resulted to the creation of derogatory notions and stereotypes. Since headtaking was done in the form of a surprise attack, observers viewed this as an act of treachery. Little did they write about the connection of ritualized headtaking to cosmology such as in rice rituals. Part of the ritual practice was the desire to win the spirit of enemies and transforming them into allies. Spears, axes, shields and blades were primary weapons used in the Cordilleras. These were produced locally using select wood from the forests, and iron bought from merchants from the adjacent trading communities of the Ilocos region. Similarities can be found in the types and designs of spears used by Bontoc and Ifugaos.

During the 1904 St. Louis world fair, about 10% of the participants were Igorots (80 Bontocs, 25 Kankanaey and 18 Itneg participants) from the Philippines who were asked for staged performances of “Igorot headhunting” and “dog feast” several times a week.
Some of the spears, axes and shields collected for the 1904 world fair was given to Linden Museum – Stuttgart and is now part of the collections. Headtaking was also instrumental to Igorot defiance against Spanish colonizers who attempted but failed to include the Cordilleras into the Philippine Spanish colonial structure. Headtaking stopped gradually during the 20th century.

Text: Prof. Dr. Leah Abayao

Falfeg

Spear with Square tang.

Falfeg or Falfog

Spear with a single barbed steel point shaped like a fish tail. Spearhead was fastened to the wooden shaft. A basketry weave of rattan ferrule was used to strengthen the shaft where the square-shaped tang is secured. A cone shaped iron cap was placed on the base of the shaft to protect the spear when while it was used as a staff by men walking along the trails. Possibly a Bontoc falfeg.

Fangkao

Spear with steel point shaped like a laurel. Spearhead was fastened to the wooden shaft. A iron ferrule and basketry weave of rattan ferrule were used to strengthen the shaft where the square-shaped tang is secured. Almost half of the shaft was burned by incendiary bombs that hit the Linden-Museum during WW II.

Hip’ag amulet

A wooden anthropomorphic figure seated on a carved platform. With patina. Figures like this embody the powers of the Hip’ag war deities that were invoked during rituals dealing with any form of violence and related acts. Hip’ag deities were often associated to hunting, sorcery and curing unusual illness. Hip’ag objects may also take the shape of animals such as a boar. According to the collector, this object was “several generations” old when he acquired it.

Human Remains

A head tied on a wooden board together with a wooden spear blade and dry leaves.

Inabnutan

An ifugao man’s back pack used in long journeys including headtaking raids. Made out of hair like fibre of plant that serves at protection from rain. The Bontocs also have fangao which is similar to this. Possibly newly made before it was acquired.

Inabnutan

Ifugao man’s backpack used in long journeys including headtaking raids. Made out of hair like fibre of a plant that serves as protection from rain. The Bontocs also have fangao which are similar to this.

Kalasag

Wooden shield carried for protection during warfare. Mound shaped and forked with three prongs atop and two prongs at it base. Rattan basketry was woven near the prongs to help keep the wood together. The designs that have been etched and blackened resemble distinct tattoo designs of Kalinga warriors. Colourful basketry weave was used to design the prongs. Some of the basketry weave have worn out. Handle at the back was carved.

Kalasay

Wooden shield. Mound shaped and forked with three prongs atop and two prongs at its base. Rattan basketry was woven to help keep the wood together. Handle at the back was carved. With thick patina. Dated 19th century by the collctor.

Kalasay

Wooden shield. Mound shaped and forked with three prongs atop and two prongs at it base. Rattan basketry was woven to help keep the wood together. Handle at the back was carved. With patina. Paper label stating that it was displayed at the St. Louis Fair is pasted at the back of the shield.

Kalasay

Wooden shield. Mound shaped and forked with three prongs atop and two prongs at it base. Rattan basketry was woven to help keep the wood together. Handle at the back was carved. With patina.

Kalasay

Wooden shield carried for protection during warfare. Mound shaped and forked with three prongs atop and two prongs at it base. Rattan basketry was woven near the prongs to help keep the wood together. Handle at the back was carved. With patina.

Panilipo

Spear with a single barbed steel point shaped like a fish tail. Bigger sized spearhead was fastened to the wooden shaft. A basketry weave of rattan ferrule was used to strengthen the shaft where the tang is secured. The base was burned by incendiary bombs that hit the Linden-Museum during WW II. Possibly a Bontoc falfeg.

Panilipo

Spear with a single barbed steel point shaped like a fish tail. Bigger sized spearhead was fastened to the wooden shaft. A basketry weave of rattan ferrule was used to strengthen the shaft where the round tang is secured. The base was burned by incendiary bombs that hit the Linden-Museum during WW II. Possibly a Bontoc falfeg.

Panilipo

Spear with round tang.

Panilipo

Spear with a single barbed steel point shaped like a fish tail. Spearhead was fastened to the wooden shaft. A iron ferrule and a basketry weave of rattan ferrule were used to strengthen the shaft where the round-shaped tang is secured. The based was burned by incendiary bombs that hit the Linden-Museum during WW II.

Pinnang

Axe with rattan weave ferrule and a wood shaft.

Pinnang

Axe with a steel ferrule and a wood shaft.

Pinnang

Axe with steel ferrule and a wooden shaft.

Shield

Wooden shield. Mound shaped and forked with three prongs atop and two prongs at it base. Handle at the back was carved. Observable signs of decay.

Sinalawitan

Spear with multi-barbed steel point shaped like a fish tail. Spearhead was fastened to the wooden shaft. A iron ferrule and a basketry weave of rattan ferrule were used to strengthen the shaft where the tang is secured.

Spear

This spear resembles the falgeg (Bontoc) balabog (Ifugao), a game spear with a barbed steel point. Well polished wooden shaft and a square tang. Except for the information that this spear was acquired 1953, there are no available documents on the history of the object.

Spearhead

A point of a spear.

Wooden Spear Shaft

Shaft of a wooden spear from the Luzon Cordilleras. Ethnic group unknown. The base was burned by incendiary bombs that hit the Linden-Museum during WW II. Originally part of a collection of 11 spears registered under the same number; all seem to have been destroyed during WW II.