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Old 15th April 2012, 12:25 PM   #1
Pieje
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Default Wooden Igorot shield

Hi,

This wooden shield was brought back from the Philippines between 1977 and 1980. It belonged to the Igorot tribe, headhunters of the Bontoc Province. Does anyone have a idea about its age?
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Old 15th April 2012, 10:04 PM   #2
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Hello Pieje,

welcome to the forum. Nice looking shield which seems to be extremely used. I am not an expert but here are others who know very good about these area of collecting. I would guess that it is a warrior shield from beginng of the 20th century. What are the reinforcing at the sides of the shield? It is most probable a Bontoc shield.

Regards,

Detlef

Last edited by Sajen : 15th April 2012 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 16th April 2012, 01:50 AM   #3
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I agree with Sajen that it is beginning of the 20 century and Bontoc tribe (one of the Igorot tribes).
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Old 16th April 2012, 08:35 AM   #4
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Thanks!
This reinforcing is a sort of iron web on both sides of the shield.
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Old 16th April 2012, 11:30 AM   #5
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Hello Pieje, wel actually -as I am a long time collector of N.-Philippine tribal art- this however typically looking Bontoc-Igorot shield could firstly be older than expected; I reckognise the yellowishness of the wood and it is probably very dry; it may be slightly older than 1900.
Interesting enough your shield has a few 'features' I have not seen before! 1. is the 'strange' lashing. Normally these shields have a woven rattanband -like yours has- running accross and fixated with (only) criscross going 'stitches'. Yours has a sort of praralel running rattanlines also (above n below)
2. the very ends of each projection or 'legs' have notches carved in them.

The tribal name for these shields is 'kalasag' , which name surprisingly is shared by almost all tribes in Luzon.

The 'damaged' sides of the shield are actually a good sign of authentic use. During wartime (before and/or after) all warriors would celebrate and while walking in a row tap with a stick on the sides of their shield. These shields where therefore also sometimes reffered to 'gaklab' ; sound of tapping on the shields.

Because of these features I suspect your shield could also be from South -Kalinga tribe (North of Bontoc). I also have -now I remember- a set of Mother of pearlornaments which also show these carved notches on the sides.

congrats with this nice shield.Best,

Last edited by Indianajones : 16th April 2012 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 16th April 2012, 07:29 PM   #6
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Thanks for this very detailed reply, I appreciate. Nice to know itís very likely a good piece. Circa 1900 is much more than I expected.
Any idea about the iron wiring on both edges?
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Old 16th April 2012, 08:54 PM   #7
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The iron additions are probably of American soldier items (perhaps the iron innerwork of military verhicletires??) which they got hold of -including the nails- and added to the shield to protect it extra from the sides from blows of headaxes.
Although the South Kalinga's and Bontocs have lots in (cultural) common, they are also since early times (headhunting/killing) enemies from eachother.
I suppose these additions were done AFTER the actual manufacture of the shield? They are in any way certainly very practical in the sense of warfare and actual war-use of the shield.
Glad to help
(I'l look up n post a picture of a South Kalinga which is stored in my other comp. soon)
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Old 17th April 2012, 09:16 AM   #8
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Thanks.
Yes, the iron reinforcing seems to be done later, nails are only used at the edge to keep the iron wiring in place. The wood is indeed very dry and light. The shield measures 86cm in height.
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Old 17th April 2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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Picture of South Kalinga with the 'governor' at right (written in white at border) holding a shield and a headaxe.
It says 'Lubuagan Kalinga' underneath which is a town actually between the North and South Kalinga (-influence zone). This town is also along the (only) road from Bontoc (tribe and town) into the Kalinga territory and any military "activity" coming from the South would have used this road (; source of iron/foreign material).
The North Kalinga use a different and quite more elegant type of shield; slender, long and with a diamondshaped 'bud' at the front.

Now all you need is a headaxe aand a spear and your 'Do-it-yourself headhunting set' is complete

Another detail; the reason why the left part of the griphole is larger than the right is because a warrior would hold these shields using only the middle three fingers (left hand; right hand is for holding the headaxe), leaving the tiny and the thumb outside for easy tilting the shield foreward/backwards when dualing. This is why sometimes there is a shiny spot in the "NorthEastern' direction above the grip.

Several of the shields I own also show tiny elongated triangular cuts/piercings in the wood on the front, which have been made by blows of headaxes.

Best,
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Old 17th April 2012, 03:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indianajones
Picture of South Kalinga with the 'governor' at right (written in white at border) holding a shield and a headaxe.
It says 'Lubuagan Kalinga' underneath which is a town actually between the North and South Kalinga (-influence zone). This town is also along the (only) road from Bontoc (tribe and town) into the Kalinga territory and any military "activity" coming from the South would have used this road (; source of iron/foreign material).
The North Kalinga use a different and quite more elegant type of shield; slender, long and with a diamondshaped 'bud' at the front.

Now all you need is a headaxe aand a spear and your 'Do-it-yourself headhunting set' is complete

Another detail; the reason why the left part of the griphole is larger than the right is because a warrior would hold these shields using only the middle three fingers (left hand; right hand is for holding the headaxe), leaving the tiny and the thumb outside for easy tilting the shield foreward/backwards when dualing. This is why sometimes there is a shiny spot in the "NorthEastern' direction above the grip.

Several of the shields I own also show tiny elongated triangular cuts/piercings in the wood on the front, which have been made by blows of headaxes.

Best,


Interesting informations! Now I know why every time the griphole on the left is larger, by my example as well!

Again, a very nice shield!

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 17th April 2012, 03:59 PM   #11
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Thanks for this thorough and inspiring info!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Indianajones
Now all you need is a headaxe and a spear and your 'Do-it-yourself headhunting set' is complete


To be honest, I went to buy some African swords when I saw that shield and I particularly liked it. So I bought it, relatively cheap, without knowing anything about it, thought it was African
But knowing I have an old and authentic Bontoc Igorot reinforced war shield showing traces of use during wartime made my day. Perhaps I'll have a look for an axe.
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Old 17th April 2012, 07:17 PM   #12
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Here some pictures from my Bontoc shield for comparison. but i like your one much more!
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:03 PM   #13
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Arrow Krieger plates

There are more pictures of these in the Krieger plates
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Old 18th April 2012, 08:49 AM   #14
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Also a nice shield...compared to mine it seems to have a different patina/colour and a double, differently woven rattenband.
Nice blade next to it...

I noticed that the wood surrounding the lower cut out of my shield is slightly more used...a head or neck would fit perfectly
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Old 18th April 2012, 10:33 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieje
Also a nice shield...compared to mine it seems to have a different patina/colour and a double, differently woven rattenband.
Nice blade next to it...

I noticed that the wood surrounding the lower cut out of my shield is slightly more used...a head or neck would fit perfectly



Thank you Pieje,

i think that my one is a real Bontoc shield, so a little bit different. Which blade you mean, left or right?

Here a picture of a Bontoc warrior with shield, axe and spear.

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 18th April 2012, 08:33 PM   #16
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Hi Sajen n Pieje,
Sajen your shield is (indeed) a typical Bontoc shield. Pieje, your shield would to my opinion be South Kalinga.
Here are some (older) pics of my N. Philippine collection; first the Bontoc 'department', second the (North) Kalinga 'department'.

I think Pieje means the piece of blade visible from your Kalinga headaxe )right side), not Pieje?
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Old 18th April 2012, 09:23 PM   #17
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This one is to seen in this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=kalinga
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Old 18th April 2012, 09:26 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indianajones
Hi Sajen n Pieje,
Sajen your shield is (indeed) a typical Bontoc shield. Pieje, your shield would to my opinion be South Kalinga.
Here are some (older) pics of my N. Philippine collection; first the Bontoc 'department', second the (North) Kalinga 'department'.

I think Pieje means the piece of blade visible from your Kalinga headaxe )right side), not Pieje?



The scratches on the shield on the right side by your Bontoc display are from making fire, correct?

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 19th April 2012, 10:49 AM   #19
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Yes I meant the axe on the right. I'll may buy a headaxe if I ever come across one.

Likely South Kalinga, ok. Thanks.

Very nice collection you guys have!
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Old 19th April 2012, 11:12 AM   #20
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Sajen; those 'bare areas' on the right shield are, like Pieje's one on the side from hitting the shield with a stick by warriors before or after going on warpath. They wood use the shield as a drum together with the sound of gansa's (gongs) and wild cries to tune up the excitement!

Sometimes the warriors would also walk in a line behind eachother (on their way to other villages for gathering more crowd for the war against the enemy(village)).

See the difference between the quite more rudely shaped Bontoc shields in contrast to the South Kalinga shields which have a more distinctive outline (with the outmost elegant outline made by the North Kalinga).

>>included another pic of some Bontocs with shield on their village 'ato' or square. See also the spots on this shield. Note; when heads where brought back they would be burried under the pavement of such ato's!
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Old 19th April 2012, 03:49 PM   #21
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Thank's!!
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Old 19th April 2012, 04:47 PM   #22
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Pieje, ,
The shield looks great. Not to say that the others don't, but I always enjoy seeing modifications or repairs to these pieces. I figured that someone out there may also enjoy seeing my old Bontoc Shield. It has certainly seen a bit of action. Plenty of split rattan reinforcements, impact marks, and an old piece of tin covering the hole in the center. One of my favorite Philippine pieces.

Joe
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Old 19th April 2012, 05:17 PM   #23
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Very nice one! To bad that this shield can't tell us from it's life!

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Old 19th April 2012, 07:32 PM   #24
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Wow indeed a real joy to see! Thanks
Wonderfull how smooth the handle can get from pure decades of handling and fearsweat!
Surely an ancient piece from as early as 1850 or even earlier!

The bamboo sticks stuck into the rattan bands at the back of your shield are actually used on the way back when heads had just secured from an enemy village. The revenge seeking villagers would than often quickly pick up their shields and headaxes and pursue the headtakers, who would put these sharp stick in the ground -firmly and pointing backwards-, so the pursueing party would hopefully injure their feet while running after them. I believe they are called 'pua' but am not sure.

Also; looks like someone has been painting (the ceiling?) above the shield; too bad about those spots.

Last edited by Indianajones : 19th April 2012 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 19th April 2012, 10:25 PM   #25
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That is a fantastic shield Joe! A piece with a history. Thanks for sharing!
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