The Many Faces of a Bulol

Taking a look at traditional Ifugao sculpture is an interesting way to understand the people’s culture.  The Museum of Cordillera Sculpture is the perfect place for this. The two-storey house holds a vast and precious collection of both traditional and modern Ifugao sculpture.

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There are also pieces from other groups such as the Bontoc, Iwak, and Kalanguya.  The oldest in the collection interestingly is not from the Cordilleras but from eastern Samar, a depiction of an owl-god sculpted in the 16th century.

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It’s an insight in the animist beliefs of the people that Spanish colonizers tried to eradicate but which some villagers continued covertly.

But it is in the bulol that I was most fascinated with.

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One of the most interesting things I learned  is that bulols actually have faces! Most of us are accustomed to mass-produced bulol sold as souvenirs which all look like they came from an assembly line. Seeing the ones displayed at the museum, I learned that bulols usually take on a composite face of the owner’s ancestors.

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Far from having a generic look, they have very distinct features.

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They’re also anatomically correct.

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Not all bulol are seated either. Some may be dancing.

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Or standing.

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What all these show is the personal devotion by which the Ifugao bulol sculptors create these sacred icons. 

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The Many Faces of a Bulol

  1. that’s really interesting to know. i was one of those who merely saw the little statues as souvenir items who all pretty much looked the same.

    cool info you got there. thanks for sharing. =)

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