October 23, 2013

0847 PHILIPPINES (Cordillera Administrative Region) - An Ifugao dance

Ifugao is a landlocked province in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon, covering a mountainous region characterized by rugged terrain, river valleys, and massive forests, and is famous for its rice terraces (about which I wrote here), included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995. The terraces were constructed by the ancestors of the Ifugao people (people of the hill), who still live and work as in the past. They are named Igorot (mountain people) by non-Cordilleran, and are different from other tribes in the area in culture, tradition, language, and idealism. In the past they were feared head-hunters, just as other tribes in these mountainous regions. Igorots may be divided into two subgroups, who prior to Spanish colonisation didn't considered themselves as belonging to a single ethnic group: one who lives in the south, central and western areas (adept at rice-terrace farming), and one who lives in the east and north. They may be further subdivided into five ethnolinguistic groups: the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Isnag (or Isneg/Apayao), Kalinga, and the Kankanaey.

Their textiles (colorful blankets and clothing woven on looms) are renowned for their sheer beauty. The Ifugaos men wear the traditional wanno or G-string (there are six types of wanno, used depending on the occasion or the man's social status). The part that encircles the body is worn high and tight, and the ends hang loose in front (dayude) and at the back (iwitan). It's made of dark blue cloth with a red stripe running lengthwise in the middle between two yellow lines which either touch the middle stripe or are woven apart from it. They wear the hair short around the head, but the middle part is allowed to grow long, giving the impression of a cap of hair. Many have earrings (hingat) and necklaces, usually a string of 2 to 8 pieces of gold, silver, or copper in a C-shape, tight at the base of the neck.

Ifugao women wear the tapis, a wraparound skirt called ampuyou or tolge. There are five kinds of tapis: the inggalgalletget (made of two pieces, has narrow stripes and is worn just above the knee), the intinlu (made of three pieces, joined together with a takdog and other stitches), the indinwa (shorter than the intinlu but longer than the working skirt), the gamit (made of two equal pieces, with red and white threads which alternate with white and yellow, and the edges hemmed). The belts are worn to keep the skirt in place. Some women allow their hair to hang loose at the back, but some fold their hair up and use a string of beads called atake or inipul. Earring and pendants used by men are also worn by the women.

The Ifugao have various types of musical instruments for different occasions, particularly during village rituals and social gatherings. Among the percussion instruments, the gongs commonly called the gangsa or gangha are the most popular. The gangsa is an ensemble of 3 to 4 flat gongs played in special rhythms, while the gangha is usually made of brass or bronze. The individual gongs are called tobob, hibat, or ahhot. The manner of playing the tobob, the low-pitched gong, with clenched fist, is unique to the Ifugao. Dancing has also always been part of the Ifugao life, taking center stage during rituals, religious activities, and special occasions. The one from the postcards is a dance of joy for good harvest.

About the stamps
The first stamp ispart of the series Save the Tamaraw, I wrote here. The second, depicting a Twin-Spot Wrasse / Coris Angulata, is part of the huge set of definitive stamps called Marine Biodiversity,about which I wrote here.

Igorot people - Wikipedia
Ifugao - by Christina Sianghio

Sender: Crispulo V. Arquero III (direct swap)
sent from Vigan City (Luzon / Philippines), on 03.10.2013

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