Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1935 Bontoc kadangyan
Subjectkadangyan war leader
Culture: Bontoc Igorot
Setting: tribal warfare, Luzon highlands 19th-mid 20thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Power and gold 1985 p247-248
"Kandangyan [sic], the class of ritually defined aristocrats, dominate the ward councils, although they are not actual chiefs.  As is the case among the Ifugao, the Bontoc kadangyan class are basically a group of titleholders who endeavor to rise through the prestige ranks by hosting more and more elaborate feasts.  As ceremonial nobles compete, many animals are sacrificed and their meat distributed to ward residents.  At the same time, the kadangyan acquire more precious goods with which to outdo their competitors.  Pre-modern Bontoc society practiced headhunting, another means of increasing prestige, and maintained peace pacts with other mountain societies."  [references omitted]

Howard 2000 p28-29
"The decisive force in the push for development was the discovery of mountain gold, 250 miles north of Manila, at Antamok Creek, in 1927.  By 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, scores of mining companies were operating in the highlands.  While the rest of the world underwent economic hardship, the Mountain Province experience[d] relative economic prosperity even though the mining booms crashed regularly.  Progress was not without its price, for the invading miners found a region where formal ownership and legal land titles were unknown.  The conflicts between miners and natives were not entirely one-sided, as some of the locals also had an interest in the mines.  A series of events contributed to the collapse of the boom.  The first was the fall of the price of gold on world markets in 1934-5, after which gold mining was confined to a few of the more productive sites and some ongoing prospecting in the less explored areas within Kalinga province.  The second focused on the coming of Filipino independence, which would inevitably give greater power to the people of the mountains in their struggle against the invasion of prospectors and missionaries.  The third related to several scandals surrounding sales to locals of worthless mining claims, whose duped victims camped out on sites around villages throughout Bontoc, unwilling to accept that they had been swindled.  Bontoc was claimed 'the common property of the nation' (and hence subject to outside exploitation).  The government watched helplessly, while hundreds of armed Bontoc warriors invaded the camps and claims of the prospectors and occupied the treetops and higher ground to defend their homeland.  The terrified prospectors called the constabulary, and when they arrived to oversee a settlement they found the province on the brink of open war.  The authorities conceded they were unable to deter the natives from their 'gallant ... effort to defend what they honestly believe to be their heritage (by withstanding) the persistent onward march of industry ... and civilization.'"  [reference omitted]


* Power and gold 1985 p248
"Men wore distinctive little basket-type hats on the backs of their heads:  
The colorful small rounded hat, beautifully adorned with beads, boar's teeth, and red feathers, called the fal-lake, is worn by bachelors; while a slightly larger one, brown and unadorned, is worn by married men.  These hats, besides their decorative purpose serve as pockets for keeping pipes, tobacco leaves, matches, and other useful things." [reference omitted]

* Jenks 1905 p184
"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."

* Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology > Pacific Islands Hall
"... Bontoc men typically wear their hair in a bun. A hat worn over the bun indicates that the wearer is a bachelor."

* Museo Nacional de Antropología > Filipinas
"... Los decorados con conchas y colmillos son utilizados exclusivamente por los hombres solteros, mientras que los casados los usan sin ningún tipo de adorno."

* Howard 2000 p42
"[C]ircular Bontoc hats, known as 'socyop' or 'balacka,' ... are also used to carry food and valuables."

* Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology > Pacific Islands Hall
"... This hat is worn by young, unmarried men. It is also used to hold small personal items such as a pipe or betel chewing supplies."

* Pastor-Roces 1991 p157
"The Bontok soklong ... [was] traditionally worn by young men."

* Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology > Pacific Islands Hall
"... Married Bontoc men wear their hair in a bun covered with this type of hat."

Spears (Fal Feg, Fang Kao, Bamboo)

* Jenks 1905 p127-128
"All spearheads are fastened to the wooden shaft by a short haft or tang inserted in the wood.  An iron ferrule or a braided bejuco ferrule is employed to strengthen the shaft where the tang is inserted.  A conical iron ferrule or cap is also placed on the butt of the shaft.  This ferrule is often used, as the spear is always stuck in the earth close at hand when the warrior works any distance from home; and as he passes along the steep mountain trails or carries heavy burdens he commonly uses the spear shaft as a staff."The spear shafts are made by the owner of the weapon, it nor being customary for anyone to produce them for sale.  Some of them are rather attractively decorated with brass and copper studs, and a few have red and yellow bejuco ferrules near the blade."


* Howard 2000 p61
"The three essential implements for headhunting are the spear, the shield and the ax.  Each tribe has special names for these ritual weapons.  The Bontoc refer to the full-size shield as the 'kalasag,' the spear as the 'tufay,' and the headhunting ax as the 'kaman.'  Regardless of the name, the deadly effects are the same.  The long spear serves to wound and bring down the opponent in battle.  The shield's curved bottom is then used to pin down the struggling victim by the neck.  The heavy flat blade of the double-sided ax performs the actual decapitation, and the sharply curved opposing side is used to skin the skull."A more purposeful and workmanlike approach to this grisly task cannot be imagined."

* Jenks 1905 p124
"[The shield of the Bontoc culture area] is usually about 3 feet long and 1 foot wide, is blackened with greasy soot, though now and again one in original wood is seen.  The upper part or 'chief' of the shield is cut, leaving three points projecting several inches above the solid field; the lower end or 'base' is cut, leaving two points.  Across both ends of the shield is a strengthening lace of bejuco, passing through perforations from front to back.  The front surface of the shield is most prominent over the deep-cut hand grip at the boss or 'fess point,' toward which a wing approaches on both the dexter and sinister sides of the front of the shield, being carved slightly on the field.  This is the usual Bontoc shield, but some have meaningless straight-line decorations cut in the field."


* Jenks 1905 p185
"[T]here is a unique display of dress by the man at this head-taking ceremony of the ato, when some of the dancers wear boar-tusk armlets, called 'ab-kil',' and a boar-tusk necklace, called 'fu-yay'-ya.'
​    "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 at Bontoc, and it is almost impossible to buy one, but the armlets are more plentiful."

* Museo Nacional de Antropología > Filipinas
"... Este tipo de collar es muy raro y apreciado, se lleva eclusivamente por los hombres en las ceremonias de corte de cabezas y es un signo de prestigio."

* Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology > Pacific Islands Hall
"...Necklaces made from dogs' teeth and bone were worn by men who had participated in raids."

* Power and gold 1985 p337
"Headhunter's necklace called boaya, made of pieces of shell carved in the shape of animal's teeth, mounted on a wickerwork support. ... Buaya means crocodile in Indonesian."


* Power and gold 1985 p337
"According to Beday-Brandicourt, when a young man has reached the age of initiation, he must go alone into the mountains to hunt for a wild pig, whose tusks will be used to make the armlet.  If he is very brave and kills two pigs, he will have an armlet with four tusks (such armlets are also the prerogative of nobles, who are allowed simply to buy the second pair of tusks).  Only after that can the young man participate in a headtaking expedition.  If his first victim is female, he will carve a wooden female mate to tie on his tankil, and if the victim is a man, it will be a male figure.  The figures are carved in nara (red teak) wood and tied on with fibers.  Often the victim's hair is added.  Before he has killed anyone, the young man can only be tattooed up to the level where he wears the tankil; afterward he can enlarge the tattoos to cover his whole chest and face.  The tankil are worn mostly during the kan:ao ..."

* Jenks 1905 p185
"[Armlets] are worn above the biceps, and some are adorned with a tuft of hair cut from a captured head."

* Howard 2000 p57
"Bontoc and Ifugao males wear boar tusk bracelets ..., but instead of human hair, a small wooden carving of a 'bulul' rice guardian or other human form is attached, resembling the figures found on their gong handles.  The Bontoc refer to this bracelet as a 'tongkil.'  All three tribes [Bontoc, IfugaoKalinga] may wear the wristlet higher up as an armband, if the boar tusks happen to be large enough."

* Borel/Taylor 1994 p185
"The tankil, a Bontoc headhunter's ceremonial armlet, is also worn by other tribes in northern Luzon.  Taking part in headhunting expeditions marked a young man's transition to adulthood."


* Jenks 1905 p129
"Baliwang alone makes the genuine Bontoc battle-ax.  it is a strong, serviceable blade of good temper, and is hafted to a short, strong, straight wooden handle which is strengthened by a ferrule of iron or braided bejuco.  The ax has a slender point opposed to the bit or cutting edge of the blade.  This point is often thrust in the earth and the upturned blade used as a stationary knife, on which the Igorot cuts meats and other substances by drawing them lengthwise along the sharp edge.  The bit of the ax is at a small angle with the front and back edges of the blade, and is nearly a straight line.  the axes are kept keen and sharp by whetstones collected and preserved solely for the purpose."

* Howard 2000 p176
"kaman -- headhunter's curved ax (Bontoc)"


* Jenks 1905 p130
"In the southern and western part of the Bontoc area the battle-ax shares place with the bolo, the sole hand weapon of the Igorot of adjoining Lepanto, Benguet, and Nueva Viscaya Provinces."The bolo within the Bontoc area comes from Sagao and from the Ilokano people of the west coast.  The southern pueblo in the Bontoc area, Ambawan, uses the bolo of Sapao to the entire exclusion of the battle-ax.  Tulubin, the next pueblo to Ambawan, and only an hour from it, uses almost solely the Baliwang battle-ax.  Such pueblos as Titipan and Antedao, about three hours west of Bontoc, use both the ax and bolo, while the pueblos further west, as Agawa, Sagada, balili, Alap, etc., use the bolo exclusively -- frequently an Ilokano weapon."The Sapao bolo is, in appearance, superior to that of Ilokano manufacture.  It is a broad blade swelling markedly toward the center, and is somewhat similar in shape to the barong of the Sulu Moro of the Sulu Archipelago.  This weapon finds its chief field of use in the Quiangan and Banawi areas.  In these districts the bolo is fitted with an open scabbard, and the bright blade presents a novel appearance lying exposed against the red scabbard.  The Igorot manufacturer of the bolo does not make the scabbard, and most of the bolos used within the Bontoc area are sheathed in the closed wooden scabbard commonly found in Lepanto and Benguet."

* Howard 2000 p176
"bolo -- machete (Bontoc/Ifugao)"


* Howard 2000 p41
"Handwoven baskets are worn as backpacks to carry food back and forth to work in the fields, on hunting trips, and on visits to neighboring villages."

* Museo Nacional de Antropología > Filipinas
"... Estas cajas forman parte de la indumentaria masculina y en ellas se guardan los ingredientes del betel."


* Power and gold 1985 p337
"Large engraved shell (tikam) which, according to Beday-Brandicourt is called cabibi (spelling?) when mounted on a belt.  The center is ornamented with a small disk of coconut shell.  Ellis writes that these shell disks were apparently purely ornamental.  But Beday-Brandicourt asserts that they were signs of high noble status, or headhunter prowess, and were ideally confined to men who had taken at least one head.  The ornaments were supposedly quite expensive.   One explanation for this is that only a good hunter or a noble could afford to mount the necessary expedition to and from the coast -- where the shells are found -- without losing his head on the way.  It is more likely that trade pact-holders controlled access to these."  [references omitted]

* Jenks 1905 p184
"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-kûm',' and its use is purely ornamental.  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."

* Borel/Taylor 1994 p187
"When mounted on a belt, the tikam or fikum is called a cabibi.  These engraved shells were worn by headhunters and noblemen."


* Zabilka 1963 p64
"The men wear what can only be called a G-string and the women a tapis and a blouse; both smoke and chew considerably, the men wearing a small head ornament resembling a cup which contains a pipe."

* Jenks 1905 p112
"There are several varieties of breechcloths in the area.  The simplest of these is of flayed tree bark.  It is made by women in Barlig, Tulubin, Titipan, Agawa, and other pueblos.  It is made of white and reddish-brown bark, and sometimes the white ones are colored with red ocher.  The white one is called 'so'put' and the red one 'ti-nan'-ag.'  Some of the other breechcloths are woven of cotton thread by the women.  Much of this cotton is claimed by the Igorot to be tree cotton which they gather, spin and weave, but much also comes in trade from the Ilokano at the coast.  Some is purchased in the boll and some is purchased after it has been spun and colored.  Many breechcloths are now bought ready made from the Ilokano."


* Howard 2000 p41
"A small, square-shaped lunchbox called a 'topil' is tied with string or fiber to hold the top in place.  Utility vessels, made of woven rattan, carry necessities on outings, day trips or work sessions." 


* Jenks 1905 p185
"Sharp-pointed bamboo spikes are often stuck in the trails of war parties when they are returning from some foray in which they have been successful.  These spikes are from about 6 inches in length, as among the people of the Bontoc area, to 3 or more feet, as among the Ibilao [SIC: Ibaloi] of southeastern Nueva Vizcaya.  The latter people nightly place these long spikes, called 'luk'dun,' in the trails leading to their dwellings.  They are placed at a considerable angle, and would impale an intruder in the groin or upper thigh, inflicting a cruel and disabling wound.  The shorter spikes either cut through the bottom of the foot or stab the instep or leg near the ankle.  They are much dreaded, and, though crude, are very effective weapons."