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Ifugao Ceremonial Woven Rattan Headdress

Ifugao Ceremonial Woven Rattan Headdress

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Ifugao people, late 20th century, Cordillera, Northen Luzon, Philippines.

Gorgeous Ifugao headdress, Ulo di kang-o, is a traditional headdress usually worn during wedding ceremonies by the bride/groom or by the village chief/shaman as a crown during planting and harvesting rituals. Village women tend to be in charge of weaving the colorful ikat band of the headdress while men collect the hornbill bird beak (Kalaw), canine skull or carve a wooden figure of the God of rice (Bul-ul) that sits atop the headdress. The Ifugao are an ethnic group that lives in a mountainous region of north-central Luzon, Philippines. They are former headhunters who are famous for their spectacular mountain-hugging rice terraces, which had once been hailed the "eight wonder of the world". Ifugao religion has an elaborate cosmology and more than a thousand important spirits (anitos). These spirits have precise locations in the Ifugao universe that carry with specific roles and duties. They cover almost of every aspect of life: war, peace, fishing, weaving, rain, disease etc. In addition to the spirits there are deities who are immortal and have the power to change form. Ifugaos believe in 6 worlds, Skyworld (Kabunyan, the place where deities are), Earthworld (Pugaw), Underworld (Dalom), the Eastern world (Lagud), the Western world (Daya), and the Spiritual world (Kadungayan). The Ifugaos include nature and ancestor worship, and participate in rituals (baki) presided over by a shaman (mumbaki), Priests (munagao and mumbini) guide the people in rites for good fortune. It is not unusual for a half dozen pigs, one buffalo (carabao) and scores of chickens to be sacrified during these ceremonies or rituals.

Finely constructed woven rattan headdress adorned with rooster feather sprays and burnt canine skull. Headresses like this are often partly covered in hand-woven ikat fabric band, now missing. Old smoked dark patina. Good condition. Age-related wear, chip and fractures. Signs of ceremonial use over many years. Size approx. 17,0cm x 14,0cm x 13,0cm. 

Provenance: Dutch private collection

References and further reading:

Ifugao, Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life, 24 Jan. 2022  (

Vanishing Tribes, Alain Cheneviére, Doubleday & Co, Garden City, New York, 1987.

Ifugao, Facts and Details (

Philippine Basketry of the Luzon Cordillera from the Fowler Museum UCLA.(

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