There was a time that it was fashionable for every home to have a woodcarved souvenir from the northern highlands. Baguio in the 1930s had many homegrown shops that sold carved figures of wood, created by skilled, yet self-taught Igorot natives.
The best-sellers were the ubiquitous giant spoon and fork that hanged on dining room walls. Then, there were also the ethnic tribal busts, always carved in pair--an Igorot and an Igorota--hewn from medium and heavy wood. The spear-wielding full body carving of an Igorot headhunter holding the head of his dismembered victim, was also a favorite piece.This 1950s figure, showing a man astride a carabao, is less commonly seen. It almost looks like a lowland Filipiniana piece, until one sees the rider dressed in loin-cloth, clearly a mountain man from Igorotlandia.
It is a meticulously crafted piece--from the facial detailing of the man with his saucer-bowl haircut, to the carabao's furry hide, accomplished by scratching the body with thousands of shallow knife marks. Mid-century decorative pieces such as this have started appearing in antique stores, as more traditional ethnic carvings such become scarcer. They are still plentiful and cheap--but look for the ones made of heavy wood and with characteristic minute detailing. Commercial figural vintage Igorot carvings are the new "bulols"!
Show 'n tell time!
Pop culture curios, kitsch-y stuff and vintage nostalgia, picked from flea markets and someone else's trash bins. Amassed without rhyme and reason by an incurable collector of curiosities.