SAs 03041

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us

Figure with bowl

Asia, Philippines, Province Benguet, Kabayan

Prior to 1888

Wood, rope

Hans Meyer

Donation to the museum by Meyer in 1888

SAs 03041

In 1882–83, Hans Meyer embarked on a trip around the world, which also took him to the Philippines. At the suggestion of Adolf Bastian, then director of the Royal Museum for Ethnology in Berlin, he researched the settlement area and life of the Igorot on the island of Luzon. Until then, museum researchers in Europe had little knowledge about the Igorot.

Tinagtaggu (Meyer renders the term as Sinantao) or bulul represent powerful family ancestors endowed with magical powers through a ritual performed by the village priest. Their task was to ensure rich harvests for the family and to protect them from loss and disease. Generally, the figurines were depicted standing or sitting, and the rare representations with a bowl on their knees probably served to receive offerings made to the ancestors. We know little about the spiritual significance of the early Tinantaggu, and most entered Western collections only after the United States took power in the Philippines in 1898. What is striking about this object is that it has no sacrificial marks or soot blackening, indicating that it was completed and not yet in use. Moreover, Kabayan, where the piece was acquired, was within the economic sphere of influence of the Spanish colonial power, where religious art was already being sold for money. Meyer mentions the spoons with ancestral representations in his notes, and speaks of unexpectedly high prices.

Dietmar Grundmann