The mountainous region of Central Cordillera in northern Luzon is home to a large number of indigenous communities. Their fierce self-determination and geographic isolation provided relative protection from the cultural influences of Spanish colonisation. However, their art did not remain unchanged. Communities retained forms which were useful and meaningful, abandoned others and created new forms to meet new purposes – a tradition that has continued into 21st century.
In Central Cordillera art is part of everyday life and is intrinsically linked to community and spiritual wellbeing. Many villages are built around a central stone platform where social and spiritual rites are performed. These include the worship of deities and ancestors and the consecration of sculptural figures.
The carving of ancestral and religious figures, while today most prevalent among Ifugao men, was previously a practise shared by all communities of the Central Cordilleran mountain range. Textiles, on the other hand, are woven exclusively by women using backstrap looms. There has been a long and active trade in locally woven products, so many communities share techniques and an appreciation for similar motifs and colour schemes.
This style of square bag with strap would have been worn over the shoulder or secured to a belt worn around the waist. The aesthetic of Ga’dang clothing and cloth accessories is very similar to that of their neighbours the Kalinga and displays the same tendency to decorate with beads, buttons, coins and shells.
While the design of the woven textile is not overly colourful in this case, intricate beadwork is applied in a striking geometric pattern to give a tired piece of cloth a new lease of life. The addition of shells, which were an imported novelty for mountainous communities like the Ga’dang and Kalinga, also help to move and reflect light, adding a dynamic element to the bag’s overall design.
cotton, beads, shells, brass bells
45.0 x 20.0 cm (irreg.)
Gift of Dr John Yu and Dr George Soutter 2005
Not on display