'Bulul' are the best known of Ifugao sculptures. They are guardians of rice granaries, and are very important in Ifugao society, where rice is the staple crop. The Ifugao believe that 'bululs' are responsible for plentiful harvests of rice, and that the deities can also miraculously increase the amount of rice available. Not surprisingly, 'bululs' are also the most numerous of Ifugao sculptures.
Making 'bulul' sculptures is a long and complex process, taking up to six weeks with rites and ceremonies at each stage of production. 'Bulul' figures are made in pairs – one male and one female. They are usually shown as standing or seated humans, but in some areas, they are also carved as pigs. The wood used for these sculptures is from the 'narra', a hardwood tree. Upon completion of the carving, the 'bulul' figures are installed in a rice granary. A number of ceremonies accompany the placement, including putting blood on the figures. The lumpy coating on this figure is evidence of these rituals. The cost of making a 'bulul' sculpture means that only the wealthiest families can afford them.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, May 2011