Amulets and Charms

Amulets and charms allow individuals to explore supernatural solutions to needs and problems outside the sacred sphere. The belief in the protective nature of amulets is important in maintaining wellness and in healing practices. Amulets and charms are very rare and owners have stories to tell about how they acquired it. Some were found and believed to have been created by strikes of lightning, others were carved and then ritualized. These are usually stones or thunderbolts of unusual shapes. Amulets such as kiwil amongst Ifugaos, were used to protect people from hostilities. Charms such as agayok were used by men to attract women.

In the past, when headtaking was still practiced by the Ifugao, hipag amulets were used by men. It was their belief that they will aid them in the headtaking raids. Hipag amulets are miniature wood carvings of animals such as dogs, pigs, chicken or duck. These images were carved from wood from the village’s forests. Amongst Ifugaos, amulets were sometimes also used as ritual paraphernalia and then kept in rice ritual boxes.

Text: Prof. Dr. Leah Abayao

Tangkil

A man’s upper arm ornament made out of boar’s tusks. With a basketry weave and rattan tie. Men wear a pair of this during ceremonies and rituals such as in the begnas ritual for the rice production. This material is now considered an heirloom. Materials are no longer available for its production. But nowadays, this ornament is popularly reproduced and worn during cultural festivals.

Tangkil

A man’s upper arm ornament made out of boar’s tusk. With basketry weave and rattan used to attach some strands of hair. Men wear a pair of this during ceremonies and rituals such as in the begnas ritual for the rice production. This material is now considered an heirloom. Materials are no longer available for its production. But nowadays, this ornament is popularly reproduced and worn during cultural festivals.

Suklong

Woven headgear using dyed materials. Man’s personal adornment which was also used as storage of personal items such as tobacco. It is worn further back on the head and secured with a tie across forehead. Several other designs can be found in the Bontoc – Kankanaey area. Some elders in Bontoc and nearby villages still wear the Suklong during festivities or occasions.

Wooden pig

A wooden animal figure from southern Ifugao. Finely carved showing pig’s body parts. It was usually placed in the Ifugao rice granary accompanying the bul-ul and the punamhan or the tingab ritual boxes.

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.

Muling stone amulet

Muling, a hard and heavy stone used as an amulet for protection from harm. In some areas in Ifugao, it is sometimes accompanied with a stick with a stone s stone tied to the end. Other parts of Ifugao call it kodla.

Kinahu hip’ag

Wooden figure shaped like a dog used as an amulet. It is usually kept in a basket or in a ritual box. 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 other animals such as a boar.

Tangkil

A man’s upper arm ornament made out of boar’s tusk. With a basketry weave and a wooden figure with feathers attached. With patina. Collector notes this is from Bontoc and is “amulet”. Men wear a pair of this during ceremonies and rituals such as in the begnas ritual for the rice production. This material is now considered an heirloom. Materials are no longer available for its production. But nowadays, this ornament is popularly reproduced and worn during cultural festivals.

Charm amulet

Small anthropomorphic figure carved from narra wood. Possibly used as charm object, to bring good luck or protection from harm. Collector labelled the object as “fertility figure”.