Traditional houses in the Cordilleras were designed to have a multipurpose living space and an hearth. Amongst Ifugaos, houses were designed to be dismantled, moved and reassembled or built in another site to avoid misfortunes. Houses were valued for their construction histories , e.g. where and how the timber and other parts have been acquired? How it was built and who build it?. Houses were constructed using a select type of timber. The propertied class have preference to narra wood. House types differentiate the villages in the Cordillera. Amongst Ifugaos and Bontocs, some houses would feature anthropomophic sculptures such as the Bontoc tinagtagu and the Ifugao kinabbigat which are also part of this collection.

Nowadays, a few families continue to use the traditional wooden houses with thatched roofs that were built either interspersed with the rice terraces or clustered in an area near the terraces. Many houses have been modified replacing the grass roof with galvanized iron due to difficulties in acquiring quality grass. With villages continuously undergoing changes over the years, most people now dwell in contemporary types of houses made primarily out of wood, iron and cement. New houses go well with the continuously evolving configuration of village life in the Cordilleras.

Text: Prof. Dr. Leah Abayao

Female figurative sculpture

A finely carved wooden female sculpture from Northern Ifugao. Figure is standing on a round platform. Part of the platform is chipped off. Hands crossed over the breast.

Small anthropomorphic figure

Wooden anthropomorphic figure with knees bended. With patina. Collector labelled this as “ancestor figure huguhug”. Huguhug literally means the rock above the hearth which is used for drying firewood and rice or seeds. It resembles the kinabbigat wooden figures in Ifugao villages In some villages of central Ifugao, the propertied class would have a kinabbigat inside their houses. It is used to support the roof and the balog/pfalog attic part of the dwelling house. Kinabbigat may have been derived from kabbigat, a god and the source or giver of rice in central Ifugao.

Model house

A complete model of an Ifugao dwelling house, central Ifugao style. Wooden structure with a thatched roof made of cogon grass. All the mains parts can be detached and assembled as it is in a real Ifugao house. The tuod or tukod posts show the house was constructed using tree trunks with truncated roots as sturdy footing. This model also shows the lidi thick discs placed on the upper end of all four posts that primarily prevent rats from climbing into the house. The front side of the house shows a small carved head (with horn) of a buffalo. The model also includes a miniature mortar and pestle, carved from wood, which is an important part of Ifugao homes. A five piece set of miniature objects (mumbaki ritual priest, ricewine jar, ritual box, pig, ricewine bowl) is also included. This set shows an Ifugao ritual act. Rituals are often performed inside the house and on outdoor grounds of Ifugao homes.

Miniature rice mortar Luhong and pestle Alu

Finely carved miniature Ifugao mortar and pestle made out of wood. These two represents what Ifugaos use to pound and husk rice that were harvested and sundried. Each house in Ifugao society would own at least one pair of pestle and a mortar. It was normal that homes would have more pairs of pestle. Sizes and weight vary depending on the age groups that would use it. Several homes stopped using these since the kiskisan rice mill technology started operating in the communities.

Ritual act

A five piece set of miniature objects (mumbaki ritual priest, ricewine jar, ritual box, pig, ricewine bowl) showing a ritual act. Rituals are often performed inside the dwelling house or on outdoor grounds of Ifugao homes. This set also shows a ritual priest, carved wearing garments including head gear, is sitting with the important ritual paraphernalia. Priests would sit for several hours during the performance of rituals as they take turns reciting the ritual myths.

Male figurative sculpture

An anthropomorphic figure with elaborate male reproductive organ. Collector notes that this is used as “hanger” in a Bontoc sleeping place.

Figurative sculpture

Female wooden figure. With patina. The collector noted that this is a house post with “ancestor figure” and that it is from the Bontoc.