The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao - The R. F. Cummings Philippine Expedition
by Fay-Cooper Cole
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E-text prepared by Carl D. DuBois

Transcriber's note:

The Table of Contents and the List of Illustrations were added by the transcriber. The text refers to 76 photographic "PLATES," but the source copy contained only the first. Two of the illustrations were labeled "FIG. 26;" I have labeled them FIG. 26A and FIG. 26B.

Field Museum of Natural History. Publication 170. Anthropological Series Vol. XII, No. 2.



FAY-COOPER COLE Assistant Curator of Malayan Ethnology

The R. F. Cummings Philippine Expedition

George A. Dorsey Curator, Department of Anthropology


Chicago, U. S. A. September, 1913







The material presented in this paper was obtained, for the most part, during a stay of seven months among the tribes of Davao District in Southern Mindanao of the Philippine Islands. Previous to this I had spent a like period studying the Bukidnon, of the North-Central part of the Island, and while thus engaged, had penetrated to within about fifty miles of the Gulf of Davao. In order to trace migrations, relationships, and trade routes, it was determined to continue the work from the Gulf coast toward the interior. In pursuance of this plan I went to Davao in July, nineteen hundred and ten.

All information to be secured from publications, settlers, or natives was to the effect that there were at least fourteen distinct tribes to be met with in the Gulf region. The preliminary reconnaissance of the field made it plain that the earlier classifications were greatly at fault. Several divisions recognized as tribes were found to be only dialect groups, while others differing in no essential respects from one another secured names from the districts in which they resided. It was also found that in recent years there had been a considerable movement of the hill people toward the coast, and that in some places they had penetrated and established themselves in the territory formerly held by other tribes.

The capture of slaves, intermarriage, and trade between the groups have been powerful influences in obliterating tribal lines, thus adding further confusion to the classification of the people.

The field offered so much of interest that I determined to make detailed studies of the various tribes encountered. The work progressed satisfactorily for seven months, when a severe illness caused me to leave the tropics for a time, at least. As a result the work with the Gulf tribes is still far from complete. The tribes living on or near the upper waters of the Agusan river and north of Compostela were not visited, and, hence, will not be mentioned here, while certain other divisions received only scant attention. No attempt is here made to treat of the Christianized or Mohammedanized people, who inhabit a considerable part of the coast and the Samal Islands, further than to indicate their influence on the wild tribes. Both have settled in Davao District in historic times, and have taken many native converts into their villages. From these settlements new ideas, types of garments, and industries have spread toward the interior, while the extensive slave trade carried on by the Moro has had a marked effect on all the tribes with whom they have come in contact.

In the preparation of this paper I have, so far as possible, drawn on the knowledge of others to fill in the gaps in my own notes. In spite of this the information on certain groups is still so scanty that this can be, at best, only a sketch. It is offered at this time in the hope that it may serve as a help to other anthropologists who may plan to visit this most interesting field.

I wish here to extend my thanks to the various civil and military authorities who gave me valuable assistance; also to Captain James Burchfield, H. S. Wilson, James Irwin, Otto Hanson, William Gohn, Henry Hubbell, and Juan de la Cruz, planters, whose wide knowledge of, and acquaintance with the interior tribes made possible my work in many localities.

It is a pleasure and a duty to acknowledge the assistance rendered by my wife, who accompanied me throughout my Philippine work. Her presence made it possible to secure the complete confidence of the hill people, and thus to gain an insight into their home life which otherwise would have been impossible. A large part of the material here presented, particularly that relating to the women, was gathered by her and many of the photographs are from her camera.

The dialects spoken by the tribes of central and southern Mindanao are to be dealt with in a separate publication, so that at this time I shall merely give a brief description of the characters appearing in the native names used in this paper. The consonants are pronounced as in English, except r which is as in Spanish. c is used as ch in church, ~n, which occurs frequently, is a palatal nasal. There is no clear articulation and the stop is not present, but the back of the tongue is well up on the soft palate.

The vowels are used as follows: macron-a like a in father macron-e like a in fate macron-i like i in ravine macron-o like o in note macron-u like u in flute a, e, i, o, u, short of the above.

[Transcribers' note: The macron-over-vowel orthographic symbols have regretfully been irreproducible in this document.]

E is a sound between the obscure vowel e, as e in sun, and the ur in burrow.

The dipthongs[sic] are ai like ai in aisle, au like ou in mouse, or final Spanish ao as in carabao, ei like ei in eight, oi as in boy, also Eu, eu, etc.

FAY-COOPER COLE, Assistant Curator of Malayan Ethnology. CHICAGO, September, 1913.




(b) OBO


(d) ETO


The west coast of Davao Gulf between Daliao and Digos is dotted with small villages, the inhabitants of which are largely Bagobo who have been converted to the Christian faith and have been induced to give up their mountain homes and settle in towns. Back of this coast line rise densely timbered mountain peaks, lateral spurs from which often terminate in abrupt cliffs overlooking the sea. From other peaks extensive grass covered plains slope gently down nearly to the water's edge. Deep river canons cut between these mountains and across the plains, giving evidence of active erosion for a long period of time. If these mountain chains and river courses are followed back it is found that they all radiate from one stupendous mass, the center of which is Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines and reputed to be an active volcano. Near to its summit is a deep fissure from which, on clear mornings, columns of smoke or steam can be seen ascending, while the first rays of the rising sun turn into gold, or sheets of white, the fields of sulphur which surround the cone.

Along the lower eastern and southern slopes of this mountain and its tributary peaks live the wilder branch of this tribe, whose traditions, religious observances, and daily life are closely related to the manifestations of latent energy in the old volcano.


The exact number who fall under this classification is not known, Governor Bolton, who was intimately acquainted with the wild tribes of the District, estimated their number at sixty-five hundred, but this count did not include the sub-division here given as Obo. One enumeration, made by a Jesuit missionary, places the population at fifteen thousand, while the Government report of 1900 gives them eighteen thousand four hundred. The latter estimates are certainly excessive. It is probable that they were determined by compiling the population of villages reported to exist in the interior.

The wilder members of this tribe are, to a certain extent, migratory, moving their villages from one location to another according to the demands of their mode of agriculture. Their rice fields are made in mountain-side clearings, and as the ever present cogon grass[1] begins to invade the open land they substitute sweet potatoes or hemp. In time even these lusty plants give way to the rank grass, and the people find it easier to make new clearings in the forest than to combat the pest with the primitive tools at their command. This results in some new fields each year, and when these are at too great a distance from the dwellings the old settlements are abandoned and new ones formed at more convenient locations.

[1] Imperata koenigii.

It is probable that the total number belonging to this tribe does not exceed ten thousand persons.


The influence of the neighboring tribes and of the white man on the Bagobo has been considerable. The desire for women, slaves, and loot, as well as the eagerness of individual warriors for distinction, has caused many hostile raids to be made against neighboring tribes. Similar motives have led others to attack them and thus there has been, through a long period, a certain exchange of blood, customs, and artifacts. Peaceful exchange of commodities has also been carried on for many years along the borders of their territory. With the advent of the Moro along the sea coast a brisk trade was opened up and new industries introduced. There seems to have been little, if any, intermarriage between these people, but their relations were sufficiently close for the Moro to exert a marked influence on the religious and civil life of the wilder tribe, and to cause them to incorporate into their language many new words and terms.

The friendly relations with the Moro seem to have been broken off upon the arrival and settlement of the Spaniards in Davao. The newcomers were then at war with the followers of Mohammed and soon succeeded in enlisting the Bagobo rulers in their cause. A Chinese plate decorated with the picture of a large blue fish was offered for each Moro head the tribesmen presented to the Spanish commander. The desire for these trophies was sufficient soon to start a brisk trade in heads, to judge from the number of these plates still to be seen among the prized objects of the petty rulers.

After the overthrow of Moro power on the coast, Jesuit missionaries began their labors among the Bagobo, and later established their followers in several villages. In 1886 Father Gisbert reported eight hundred converts living in five coast towns. Following the conflict between Spain and the United States, and during the subsequent insurrection, these villages were left without protection or guidance. As a result, large numbers of the inhabitants retired to the hills where they were again merged with their wilder brothers. Naturally, they carried with them new ideas as well as material objects. With the re-establishment of order under American rule many returned to the deserted villages while others were induced by Governor Bolton to form compact settlements midway between the coast and the mountain fastnesses. The influence of the Government has become stronger each year, and following the human sacrifice at Talun in 1907, that powerful village and several of the neighboring settlements were compelled to move down near to the sea where they could be more easily controlled.

Schools have been opened in some localities and these, together with the activities of Catholic and Protestant missionaries, are causing a rapid change in the life and beliefs of the tribe.

The presence of American hemp planters, with the consequent demand for laborers, is also proving an immense factor in wiping out old tribal lines and in introducing new ideas.

Beyond a few letters written by the missionaries[2] we find scant reference to this tribe in history, but their own traditions and genealogies are well known even by the younger generation.

[2] BLAIR and ROBERTSON. The Philippine Islands.

According to the tribal historians the human race sprang from a man, Toglai, and his wife, Toglibon, who lived on Mt. Apo.[3] "They were there from the beginning, at a point near to the present settlement of Cibolan. Many fruits grew on the mountains and the forests abounded in game so that it was easy for them to secure food. There were born to them children, who, when they grew up, married. One day Toglai and Toglibon told their oldest boy and girl that they should go far away across the ocean, for there was a good place for them. So the two departed and were seen no more until their descendants, the white people, came back to Davao. The other children remained with their parents and were happy and prosperous until Toglai and Toglibon died and went to the sky, where they became spirits. Soon after their death the country suffered a great drought. This finally became so severe that the water in the rivers dried up and there was no more food in the land. At last the children were forced to leave their home and seek out new habitations in other parts. They traveled in pairs, in different directions, until they came to favorable locations where they settled down. From them have sprung all the tribes known to the Bagobo. One pair was too weak to make the journey from the drought-cursed land, and staid at Cibolan. One day the man crawled out into the ruined fields to see if he could not find some one thing alive, and when he arrived there he saw, to his amazement, a single stalk of sugar cane growing lustily. He cut it with his knife, and water began to come out until there was enough for the couple to drink. The flow did not cease until the rains came again to refresh the land. From these two the tribe has again grown until it numbers its members in the thousands. The people have remained true to their belief in the spirits, and each year has found them stronger in numbers, and richer in houses, land, and slaves."

[3] See fuller account by author, in Philippine Journal of Science. June 1911, Vol. VI, No. 3, pp. 128-9.

The genealogy of the Bagobo rulers is traced back through ten generations. The first ruler of whom there is record was Salingolop, during whose reign, it seems, the Spaniards first came to the Philippines. According to the tale[4] "Salingolop was a man of great and prodigious force, and as tall as the Lauan, which is the tallest tree in these forests. He had three sons called Bato, Sipongos, and Calisquisan, and a daughter named Panugutan. When the Spaniards arrived at Manila, and found that there existed a man so tall and powerful, they sent a battalion of soldiers. They disembarked on the shore of Bimigao near Daron, and ascended the mountain where Salingolop lived. He was not found, because at the time he was on the other side of the mountain hunting wild boars, and the soldiers returned to the shore, taking Panugutan as a hostage. Salingolop, having found out what had happened descended the mountain alone to fight the soldiers which were there. These fired on him, but in vain, because the balls could make no impression. On seeing this, they dropped their rifles and with bars of iron they struck him on the legs, trying to overthrow him. As he fell on the side towards the sea, the noise of the waves, it is said, reached to the Cape of San Augustin. They cut off his head and, as he lay dead, they cut off his legs that he might not arise again. The Spaniards returned to Manila, taking with them Panugutan; she married in Manila a Spaniard, by whom she had two children, who later returned to these parts and were well received, being considered not only as friends but as brothers of the Bagobo."

[4] Recorded by P. Juan Doyle, S. J.

Salingolop was succeeded by his son Bato who, in turn, was followed by Boas, Basian, Lumbay, Banga, Maliadi, and Taopan. Until we come to this last mentioned ruler we learn little more of importance, but at the beginning of his rule, we learn that the Bagobo had become a powerful people. Under his leadership they made frequent forays into neighboring districts and returned with many slaves and rich loot. The datu[5] was noted as a brave warrior, but in addition to this he was a wise and just ruler, greatly beloved by all his people. When he died more than one thousand of his subjects attended the funeral which lasted ten days. On the last day the house was decked, inside and out, with red and yellow flowers; many valuable gifts were placed beside the corpse, and the place was then abandoned.

[5] The Moro name for chief or ruler. The Bagobo name is lagaimoda or matanem, but the Moro term is in general use.

He was succeeded by his son Pangilan, whose administration, like that of his father, was firm and just. Upon his death he bequeathed the leadership of a united people to his son Manib. The new datu did not prove to be a great warrior and his decisions in matters of dispute were not always just, so that bad blood arose between the people of Cibolan and Talun. He was unable to quell the disturbances, and finally open warfare broke out, petty chiefs of other districts throwing off his control and ruling as datu. This was the condition which confronted the present ruler, Tongkaling, when he found himself ruler of Cibolan.

The claims of leadership over all the Bagobo had never been relinquished, but the actual power of the datu outside his own district amounted to little. Tongkaling soon established his right to the name of a great warrior, and his people so prospered under his rule that upon the advent of the Americans he was much the most powerful among the several chiefs. Under the administration of Governor Bolton, Tongkaling was officially recognized as head of the Bagobo, and with this added prestige, he has finally succeeded in gaining recognition from all the chiefs except those about Santa Cruz, but his actual control over them is still very slight. He has been a consistent friend of the Americans, but has jealously guarded his people against outside influences, so that they are much less affected than those of other districts. For this reason we shall, in this paper, use Cibolan as a type settlement, but where radical differences occur in other districts they will be noted.


[6] This subject will be treated fully in a separate publication.

An idea of the general appearance of the Bagobo can best be obtained by a study of the accompanying photographs. Plates II-VIII.

Measurements were made on thirty-three men and fifteen women. The maximum height of the males was found to be 164.8 cm.; minimum 149.8 cm.; with an average of 158.6 cm. For the women the maximum was 152.8 cm.; minimum 141 cm.; average 147.3 cm.

The cephalic indices of the same individuals showed 84.5 as the maximum, 74.3 minimum, and 78.8 the average for the males. The maximum for the females was 83.1, minimum 76.2, average 80.7. The average length-height index, taken from the tragus to the vertex, of the same persons, was 69.8—maximum 75.6, minimum 65.1 for the men; and for the women 73.1—maximum 76.6, minimum 70.2-.

The face is long, moderately broad, and the zygomatic arches are seldom prominent. The forehead is high and full with supra-orbital ridge slightly developed. The crown and back of the head are rather strongly arched. The people are seldom prognathous, yet individuals are met with who are markedly so (Plate V).

The lips are full and bowed; the chin is round and well formed. The root of the nose is depressed; the ridge broad and generally inclined to be concave, although straight noses are not uncommon. The nasal wings are moderately broad and arched or swelled. The eye slits are oblique and moderately open, showing dark or brown-black eyes. The hair is brown-black and generally slightly wavy or loosely curled, while in some cases it is found curled in locks. Women comb their hair straight back and plaster it with cocoanut oil, but even this does not prevent stray locks from creeping out. Both face and body hairs are scanty and are generally removed, yet occasionally a man is seen who has cultivated a few hairs into a fair semblance of a beard.

The Bagobo, while well nourished, are inclined to be of slight build, with very narrow waists. In color they are a light reddish brown with a slight olive tinge which is more pronounced in the women than in the men.

In a brief summary, we can say that they are a short, slightly built, metsati-cephalic people, with wavy hair, long faces, and broad, full noses and lips. Individuals are met with who exhibit many of the physical characteristics of the Negrito;[7] while still others, both in color and facial lines, are comparable to the Chinese.

[7] Pygmy blacks of the Philippines.


No wild tribe in the Islands gives more attention to dress than does the Bagobo. By an intricate process hemp is colored and woven into excellent garments, which, in turn, are decorated with embroidery, applique, or designs in shell disks and beads. The men wear their hair long and after twisting it around the head hold it in place with kerchiefs, the edges of which are decorated with beads and tassels.

A close fitting undershirt is often worn, and above this is an elaborately beaded or embroidered coat which generally opens in front. The hemp cloth trousers scarcely reach to the knee, and the bottom of each leg is decorated with a beaded or embroidered band. Two belts are worn, one to hold the trousers, the other to support the fighting or working knives which each man carries. In lieu of pockets he has on his back an elaborately beaded hemp cloth bag bordered with tassels and bells of native casting. Highly prized shell bracelets, worn as cuffs by some men, are made of a large, conical sea-shell (Fig. 1) the base and interior spirals of which have been cut away. Necklaces made of rattan strips decorated or overlaid with alternating layers of fern and orchid cuticle (Fig. 2) are frequently seen, while many strands of beads and carved seeds surround the necks of both men and women. Both sexes also wear, above the calf of the leg, plaited or beaded leglets to some of which magical properties are ascribed.



The woman wears a jacket which is close fitting about the neck and reaches to the skirt, so that no portion of the upper part of the body is exposed. The cloth now used in this garment is generally secured in trade, and in recent years decoration in applique has begun to succeed the excellent embroidery seen on older garments. Frequently the two types of decoration are seen on the same jacket, and to these are added complicated designs in shell or metal disks, or beads. The narrow tube skirt is of hemp cloth and is made like a sack with both ends open. At the waist it is held in place by means of a cloth or beaded belt.

In addition to the many strands of beads which encircle the neck and fall over the chest, a broad bead band is often worn over one shoulder, passing under the opposite arm near the waist. Scarfs of colored cloth are also worn in this manner when the ladies are on dress parade. Leglets and brass anklets, made like tubes so as to enclose metal balls (Fig. 3) or with bells and rattles attached, are commonly worn. The women are fond of loading their arms with ornaments of shell or brass (Fig. 4) and one forearm is covered with separate rings of incised brass wire which increase in size from the centre towards the ends, forming an ornament in the shape of an hour-glass. Their hair is generally cut so as to leave a narrow band in front; this is brushed back, but often falls forward on the face or in front of the ears. Back of this the hair is kept well oiled and is combed straight to the back of the head, where it is tied in a knot. Into this knot is pushed a wooden comb decorated with incised lines filled with lime, or inlaid with beads. On festive occasions more elaborate combs, with plumes or other decorations attached, are worn. Aside from these ornaments the head is uncovered.



Men and women are seen who have their eyebrows shaved to thin lines. This is a matter of individual taste and is done only for beauty.

Neither sex makes use of tattooing, nor do they mutilate the lips or nose, but what they lack in these respects they make up for in ear ornaments.

When a child is very young a small hole is pierced in the ear lobes, and into this opening a piece of twisted banana or hemp leaf is placed. (Fig. 5a). This leaf acts as a spring, continually enlarging the opening until the ear plugs can be inserted. Another method, sometimes employed, is to fill the opening with small round sticks (Fig. 5b), adding more from time to time, until the desired result is obtained. The plugs worn by the women are of wood, the fronts of which are inlaid with silver or brass in artistic designs, and are connected by strands of beads passing under the chin (Fig. 6). Large wooden ornaments are also worn by the men, but more prized are large ivory ear plugs made like enormous collar buttons (Plates II-IV). These are very rare, since the ivory for their manufacture must be secured from Borneo, and by the time it has passed through the hands of many traders it has assumed a value which limits the possession of articles made from it to a few wealthy men. A further method of ear adornment, frequently seen among the women, consists of beads sewed into a number of holes which have been pierced through the helices of the ears.



Both men and women file and blacken the teeth. When a boy or girl has reached the age of puberty, it is time that this beautifying should be done. There is, however, no prohibition to having it performed earlier if desired. The candidate places his head against the operator and grips a stick of wood between his teeth while each tooth is filed so as to leave only the stump, or is cut or broken to a point (Plate XIIa and b). When this has been successfully accomplished, what is left of the teeth is blackened.

The color is obtained in two ways. The more common method is to place a piece of metal on one end of a bamboo[8] tube, the other extremity of which rests on glowing coals. The smoke from the charring bamboo is conducted through the tube to the cold metal on which it leaves a deposit or "sweat." This deposit is rubbed on the teeth, at intervals, for several days until they become a shiny black. A second method is to use a powder known as tapEl which is secured from the lamod tree. The writer did not see this tree but, from the description given of it, believes it to be the tamarindus. This powder is put on leaves and is chewed. During the period of treatment the patient is under certain restrictions. He may neither drink water, cook or eat anything sour, nor may he attend a funeral. Should he do so his teeth will have a poor color or be "sick." When the teeth have been properly beautified the young man or woman is considered ready to enter society.

[8] A variety known as balakayo is used for this purpose.

Boys run about quite nude until they are three or four years of age. Until about the same age the girls' sole garment is a little pubic shield, cut from a coconut shell and decorated with incised lines filled with lime (Fig. 7). Not infrequently bells are attached to the sides of this "garment." When children do begin to wear clothing their dress differs in no respects from that of their elders.



Although we shall treat religion more fully in a later paragraph, it is desirable that we now gain an idea of those beliefs which enter intimately into every activity of the daily life of this people.

The Bagobo believes in a mighty company of superior beings who exercise great control over the lives of men. Above all is Eugpamolak Manobo, also called Manama, who was the first cause and creator of all. Serving him is a vast number of spirits not malevolently inclined but capable of exacting punishment unless proper offerings and other tokens of respect are accorded them. Below them is a horde of low, mean spirits who delight to annoy mankind with mischievous pranks, or even to bring sickness and disaster to them. To this class generally belong the spirits who inhabit mountains, cliffs, rooks, trees, rivers, and springs. Standing between these two types are the shades of the dead who, after they have departed from this life, continue to exercise considerable influence, for good or bad, over the living.

We have still to mention a powerful class of supernatural beings who, in strength and importance, are removed only a little from the Creator. These are the patron spirits.

Guarding the warriors are two powerful beings, Mandarangan and his wife, Darago, who are popularly supposed to make their home in the crater of the volcano. They bring success in battle and give to the victors loot and slaves. In return for these favors they demand, at certain times, the sacrifice of a slave. Dissentions[sic], disasters, and death will be sure to visit the people should they fail to make the offering. Each year in the month of December the people are reminded of their obligation by the appearance in the sky of a constellation known as Balatik,[9] and soon thereafter a human sacrifice doubtless takes place in some one or more of the Bagobo settlements.

[9] Orion.

A man to come under the protection of these two deities must first have taken at least two human lives. He is then entitled to wear a peculiar chocolate-colored kerchief with white patterns in it. When he has killed four he may wear blood-red trousers, and when his score has reached six he may don a full blood-red suit and carry a sack of the same color. Such a man is known as magani and his clothing marks him as a person of distinction and power in his village. He is one of the leaders in a war party; he is chosen by the datu to inflict the death penalty when it has been decreed; and he is one of the assistants in the yearly sacrifice. It is not necessary that those he kills, in order to gain the right to wear a red suit, be warriors. On the contrary he may kill women and children from ambush and still receive credit for the achievement, provided his victims are from a hostile village. He may count those of his townspeople whom he has killed in fair fight, and the murder of an unfaithful wife and her admirer is credited to him as a meritorious deed.

The workers in iron and brass, the weavers of hemp cloth, and the mediums or shamans—known as mabalian—are under the protection of special deities for whom they make ceremonies at certain times of the year.

The mabalian just mentioned are people—generally women past middle life—who, through sufficient knowledge of the spirits and their desires, are able to converse with them, and to make ceremonies and offerings which will attract their attention, secure their good will, or appease their wrath. They may have a crude knowledge of medicine plants, and, in some cases, act as exorcists. The ceremonies which art performed at the critical periods of life are conducted by these mabalian, and they also direct the offerings associated with planting and harvesting. They are generally the ones who erect the little shrines seen along the trails or in the forests, and it is they who put offerings in the "spirit boxes" in the houses. Although they, better than all others, know how to read the signs and warnings sent by the spirits, yet, all of the people know the meaning of certain omens sent through the medium of birds and the like. The call of the limokon[10] is recognized as an encouragement or a warning and its message will be heeded without fail. In brief, every natural phenomenon and every living thing is caused by or is subject to the will of unseen beings, who in turn can be influenced by the acts of individuals. As a result everything of importance is undertaken with reference to these superior powers.

[10] A dove (Calcophops indica). Similar beliefs held by the Tagalog were mentioned by Juan de Plasencia in 1589. See BLAIR and ROBERTSON, Vol. VII, p. 189.


The houses found in the coast villages line well marked streets and differ in few respects from those built by the Christianized natives throughout the Islands. Even in the more isolated districts the effect of this outside influence is marked. However, we can state with confidence that village life is a new idea to the Bagobo. He has, from time immemorial, built his home near to his fields, and there he and his family reside, except during festivals or when extreme danger threatens. At such times all go to the house of the local ruler and there unite in the festivities or the common defense.

The smaller dwellings have but one room, the floor of which is raised several feet above the ground and supported by many piles. A part of the latter extend five of[sic] six feet above the floor and form supports for the side and cross-beams. From the center of the room lighter poles project eight or ten feet above the cross-beams and form the main supports for the ridge timber. From beams at the end and sides of the room similar pieces run to this central ridge; below this they are joined together, at intervals, by means of horizontal poles and cross-beams. To this framework are lashed strips of palma brava, supports for a covering of closely laid runo, on which rests the final topping of flattened bamboo. The ridge pole is always at a sufficient height above the floor to give the roof a steep peak, and is of such length that, at the top, the side roof overhangs the ends. The roof generally rises in two pitches and always extends past the sides of the room.

In house building, the roof, which is made first, is raised to the desired height, thus serving as a shelter for the workers until the structure is complete (Plate XIII). Resting on the cross-beams, just below the rafters, a number of loose boards are laid to form a sort of attic or storage room where all unused articles, and odds and ends are allowed to accumulate.

The sides of the room, which are of flattened bamboo, are about six feet in height, and extend only to within a foot of the roof. In the walls small peep holes are cut so that the inhabitants can look outside without being seen (Plate XIV).

The flooring, which is generally made of strips of palma brava, is in two levels, forming a narrow elevated platform at one end of the room on which a part of the family sleep.

The furniture of this house is very scanty. Near to the door is the "stove" (Fig. 8)—a bed of ashes in which three stones are sunk to form a support for the pots and jars and nearby stand a few native jars and sections of bamboo filled with water. On a hanger above the fire may be found articles of food, seeds, and the like, which need protection from flies and insects. Against the wall is a bamboo rack (Fig. 9), filled with Chinese plates, or half cocoanut shells which serve as dishes. Near to the stove is a rice mortar standing on its own wooden pedestal which reaches to the ground (Fig. 10).







A child's cradle, made of a blanket suspended hammock-like between the wall and a beam support, will probably be found. A few boxes and jars, usually of Chinese make, and always a copper gong or two are regular furnishings, while to these can be added a miscellany of clothing, looms, spears, shields, meat blocks, spoons (Fig. 11), and the like. Akin to furniture, since they are found in every house, are little basket-like receptacles made by splitting one end of a bamboo pole into several vertical strips and then weaving in other shorter horizontal strips (Fig. 12). These are attached to walls and supporting poles, and in them offerings are made to the various spirits.



This is our picture of a typical home. It is not a cheery place by day, for the lack of windows, as well as a fog of smoke from the open stove, makes it dark and gloomy. Nevertheless, since the house offers a cool retreat from the blazing sun, and the smoke-laden air is free from flies and mosquitoes, it is a popular resort for all members of the family during the hottest part of the day. The little light, which filters in through the many cracks in the floors and walls, is sufficient to allow the women to spin, dye, weave, and decorate their clothing, or to engage in other activities. After dark the resinous nuts of the bitaog tree, or leaf covered resin torches are burned, and by their uncertain light the women and men carry on their labors until far into the night. Entrance to the dwelling is gained by means of a notched log, bamboo pole, or by a ladder of the same material. As a protection against strong winds many props are placed against the sides of the house, and when large trees are available the dwellings are further secured by being anchored to them with rattan lines.

In each settlement or district will be found one large house built on the same general plan as the smaller dwellings, but capable of housing several hundred people (Plate XV). This is the home of the local datu or ruler. All great ceremonies are held here, and it is the place to which all hasten when danger threatens. It is the social center of the community, and all who desire go there at any time and remain as long as they wish, accepting meanwhile the food and hospitality of the ruler.

A brief description of the house of Datu Tongkaling will give a good idea of this type of structure. Except for size—the dimensions being 44 x 20 ft.—the exterior does not differ greatly from the houses already described. A long, partially covered porch leading to the doorway is provided with benches which are always occupied by men and boys, loitering or engaged in the absorbing task of lousing one another. At the far end of the room is the elevated platform, but this one is much wider than is customary, and is intended as the sleeping place for the warriors, or illustrious guests. As the writer and his wife were considered, by the datu, as belonging to the latter class, they were favored with this vantage spot, from which they could view and be viewed by the whole household. Along the sides of the room are elevated box-like enclosures in which the datu and some of his wives and daughters sleep and keep their belongings. At night the balance of the family, including men, women, children, and dogs, occupy the floor. Midway between the side walls and near to the elevated platform are two decorated bamboo poles, which are raised in honor of the patron spirits of the warriors; while in other parts of the room are baskets, hanging altars, and other devices in which are placed offerings intended for the spirits. In addition to the customary furnishings are hundreds of objects testifying to the wealth of the datu. Clothes, boxes, dozens of huge copper gongs, drums, ancient Chinese jars and plates, spears and shields, beaded clothing, baskets, and last but not least—in the estimation of the datu—a huge enameled advertisement of an American brewery.

In the western part of the Bagobo district is a village known as Bansalan. Recently its people have been induced to leave the old settlement and build in a new location, midway between the mountains and the sea. Here the writer found a very different type of house (Plate XVIa). Small trees formed the uprights to which cross-beams were tied to make the roof supports, and on these rested a final covering of nipa palm. A few feet above the ground other supports were lashed and on them strips of palma brava were laid as flooring. In the few cases where the houses were fitted with sides, strips of nipa palm fastened together with rattan were used. There seemed to be no uniform type of dwelling, each house differing from its neighbor in number of rooms, floor levels, or in other respects. Only one feature, the elevated sleeping platform at one end of the house, was always found. A few miles further inland, in the old settlement, the houses are of the type already described in detail. The people have been practically forced to their new location by governmental action. The new careless type of structures seen in Bansalan probably represents, to them, temporary structures in which they expect to remain only until a change of governors will furnish an excuse for returning to the old location.


Near to each farm house or settlement will be seen one or more granaries, in which rice is stored (Plate XIV). Four poles form the support for a rectangular base from which the sides of the structure slope out at an angle of about 25 degrees from the perpendicular until they meet the roof. The sides and roof are of bamboo beaten flat, the latter covered with a topping of straw.

In the hemp fields is an occasional shed where the fiber is sometimes stripped, but more often these buildings, thus hidden from the public gaze, house the forges on which the smiths fashion knives and spears, or cast the bells and betel nut boxes so dear to the heart of each Bagobo.

Aside from the shrines or altars, which we shall describe later, the Bagobo erects no other buildings. He sometimes encloses a rice or cornfield with a fence, but this requires no special skill in building, since it consists of two parallel lines of uprights, between which bamboo tubes are laid to the desired height (Plate XVIb).


It is impossible, without including about everything edible in a vegetable line to be found in the district, to give a full list of foods; hence no such attempt will be made. Chief of all is the rice, many varieties of which are grown in the mountain-side clearings.[11]

[11] Back of the coast there are no irrigated fields to be found in the Davao District.

Next in importance is the camote, or sweet potato, and then follow in the order of their importance: corn, banana, sago and cocoanut.

Fish, eels, crabs, grasshoppers, monkeys,[12] deer, pigs, and chickens form a part of the food supply; in fact, the people seem to draw the line at nothing but crows, snakes, mice, rats, goats, horses, dogs, and cats. Despite the assertion of a number of worthy informants that the last three are on the prohibited list, it is the opinion of the writer that it is the scarcity of the supply rather than any feeling of prejudice which causes them to be included.

[12] Some people refuse to eat monkey meat.

Salt and pepper are used as condiments. The former is secured in trade with the coast natives and Chinese, while the latter is produced by mashing the fruit of a small wild pepper, locally known as katombal.

Rice, after being allowed to dry, is stored without being separated from the straw. When a supply is needed a bundle is laid on a piece of hide and is beaten with a wooden pestle, wielded by a woman or a slave. This separates the grain, which is gathered up and placed in a wooden mortar, where it is again beaten with the pestle until the outer husk has been loosened. To remove the chaff the rice is taken from the mortar, placed on a flat winnowing tray (Fig. 13), and tossed and caught, until the wind has carried away the lighter husks, thus leaving the grain free. This is placed in a pot, a small quantity of water is added, and the vessel is placed over the fire. Here it is allowed to remain only until it begins to boil, when it is placed on the ashes, near enough to the fire to keep it hot. From time to time the woman turns the jar until the contents is cooked through, wren each grain stands out free from its fellows.[13]

[13] This is the usual way of preparing rice throughout the archipelago.


Other vegetable foods are eaten raw, or are cooked with water and salt, with perhaps the addition of a little meat broth or a sour[sic].

[Transcriber's note: "sour" should read "soup."]

Small birds and fish are cooked without other treatment than a hasty cleaning; but the flesh of larger fowls, deer, and pig is generally cut into small cubes and cooked with condiments in a jar or small Chinese caldron. Birds are sometimes prepared by placing them on a spit, covering them with green banana leaves, and suspending them above the fire until roasted. This primitive paper bag cooking yields a most excellent dish.

Grasshoppers are relished, and are secured in the following manner: A clear grass spot is selected and several deep holes are dug in one end. Back of them, and leading toward them, is a high tight fence made in a V. By beating the grass with boughs as they walk toward the trap, the people drive the grasshoppers before them until they are finally forced into the pit, from which they are collected by the bushel.

I was told that meat was sometimes salted, dried, and stored away for future use. The climate seems to be absolutely opposed to such foresight, and the one time that I saw the process being used, the odors were such that I beat a hasty retreat and chose to accept, without proof, the verdict of the natives, that venison thus prepared was excellent.

Of almost as much importance as food is the use of the betel or areca nut,[14] which is chewed almost constantly by young and old of both sexes. The nut is divided into quarters and a piece of buyo leaf[15] is wrapped about each bit. To this is added a little lime and a pinch of tobacco, and it is ready for the mouth. The resultant deep red saliva is distributed indiscriminately on the floor, walls, and furniture where it leaves a permanent stain. To hold the materials necessary for this practice brass betel nut boxes, secured from the Moro or of their own manufacture, as well as plaited grass boxes and pouches are constantly carried (Plates XVIIa and XLI). The brass boxes generally have three compartments; the first for nuts, the second for leaves and tobacco, and the third for lime. Lime is also carried in small bamboo tubes (Fig. 14), in the decoration of which a great deal of time is consumed. The open end is fitted with a rattan sifter so that the powder is distributed evenly on the nut and leaf.

[14] Catechu L.

[15] Piper betel L.


Aged persons and those whose teeth have been so mutilated that they cannot chew, make use of an outfit which includes a small mortar and pestle (Plate XVIIb). Cutting open green betel nuts, the chewer wraps the pieces in leaves and, after adding a liberal supply of lime, mashes them in the mortar until all are reduced to a soft mass.

Lime is secured by placing snail shells in a fire, from which they are taken while hot and dropped into cold water. They can then be crushed into powder with the fingers.

Although the Bagobo raises a considerable quantity of tobacco he seldom, if ever, smokes it unless the leaf is furnished him, already prepared, by an outsider. Sometimes a small ball made of the green leaves is placed between the teeth and upper lip, where it remains until all the flavor has been extracted.

The outfits for betel nut and tobacco, aside from the brass boxes which fasten at the side, are generally carried in the sacks worn on the backs of the men or in the elaborate shoulder bags worn by the women. However, a small waterproof box is frequently seen attached to a man's belt, and in this he carries his betel nut, tobacco, and fire-making outfit.

The usual method of making fire is by the use of flint and steel, but when this is not at hand a flame can be quickly obtained by rubbing two pieces of bamboo rapidly together until the friction produces a spark.


Since only a few domesticated animals and fowls are found in a settlement, the greater part of the meat supply is secured by hunting and fishing.

Deer and wild pig are taken by means of spears. The hunter either lies in wait near the runways of the game, or the animals are driven toward the spot where the huntsmen are concealed. For this purpose the ordinary lance (Figs. 15a, b and c) is often used, but a more effective weapon is the spear known as kalawat (Fig. 15d). In this the metal head fits loosely into a long shaft to which it is attached by a rope. As soon as the weapon enters the body of the animal the head pulls out of the shaft, and this trails behind until it becomes entangled in the undergrowth, thus putting the game at the mercy of the hunter. Dead falls and pits are put in the runways, and a frightened animal is sometimes impaled on concealed sharpened bamboo sticks. Less frequently, large animals are secured by means of rope loops which hang from trees past which the game is accustomed to pass. Until recent years the balatik, a trap which when sprung throws an arrow with great force against the animal which releases it, was much used but so many domestic animals have been killed by it that this sort of trap is now in disfavor.


Wild chickens are captured by means of snares (Fig. 16). A tame rooster is fastened in the jungle and around him is placed a snare, consisting of running knots attached to a central band. The crowing of this fowl soon attracts the wild birds which, coming in to fight, are almost sure to become entangled in one of the nooses. Slip loops, attached to a bent twig and released by disturbing the bait, are also employed in the capture of wild fowl.


Birds of all sizes are secured by use of bows and arrows, blow guns, or nets. Wooden decoys (Plate XVIII) are tied to the branches of trees in which the hunters are concealed. The bows used are of palma brava, in each end of which notches are cut to hold the rattan bow strings (Fig. 17). The arrow shafts are of light reeds and are fitted with one or two bamboo points. These weapons are effective only for close range, and even then the Bagobo are far from being expert marksmen. Boys use a reed blow gun through which they shoot light darts tufted with cotton (Fig. 18). The missile is not poisoned and is of little use at a distance of more than twenty feet.



By far the most effective means of securing birds is to stretch a net between trees or poles where the birds are accustomed to fly. Wooden decoys are attached to the net in order to attract the game which, once enmeshed, is easily caught.

Various devices are employed in the capture of fresh water fish,[16] but the most common is a torpedo-shaped trap of bamboo (Fig. 19). Stone conduits lead the water from streams into the open ends of these traps, thus carrying in fish and shrimps. The funnel-shaped opening has the sharpened ends set close together so that it is quite impossible for the prisoners to escape, although the water readily passes between the bamboo strips.

[16] Along the coast the methods of the Christianized natives are used in salt water fishing.


A hook and line is employed, especially for eels; while in clear pools fish are secured by means of a four-pointed spear which is thrust or thrown (Fig. 20). Perhaps the most interesting device used is a lure, known as boro (Fig. 21). A live minnow is fastened at the end of the rod near to a rattan noose. A cord running from the noose to the end of the stick allows the fisherman to draw up the noose as he desires. The struggles of the captive fish soon attract others, and when one enters the loop the line is drawn taut, securely binding the intruder. Several fish can be taken from a single pool by this method. A berry (anamirta coccithis L.) is used in the capture of fish. It is crushed to a powder, is wrapped with vines and leaves, and is thrown into pools. The fish become stupified[sic] and float to the surface where they are easily captured. After being cooked they are eaten without any ill effects.




Mention has already been made of some of the daily occupations of the people. We have found the women caring for the home and preparing the rice and other foods which are served in the house. At no time did the writer see a man, other than a slave, take any part in such household duties; but when on the trail each would do his share in preparing the meals. In the village we found the women and children carrying the water and wood and, at rare intervals, doing laundry work. Instead of soaping and rubbing soiled clothing, they soak the garments in water, then place them on stones and beat them with wooden paddles or clubs. The articles are alternately soaked and beaten until at least a part of the dirt has been removed. It is also the privilege of any woman to engage in the manufacture of basketry, or to act as a potter.

In the manufacture of baskets the woman makes use chiefly of bamboo and rattan, though other materials, such as pandanus are sometimes brought into service. Three weaves or their variants are employed. The first is the common diagonal or twilled weave, in which each element of the weft passes over two or more of the warp elements. In this way most of the rice winnowers, transportation baskets, knife sheaths, and the like are made. In the second weave (Fig. 22), the foundation of the basket is made up of parallel horizontal rods, or strips of bamboo. These are laced together by warp strips which pass alternately under one and over one of the foundation rods, crossing each other at an angle, one above the other below the rod. The trinket baskets carried by the women, the larger waterproof receptacles known as binota, and the covers for wild chicken snares are in this technic. A variant of this weave is found in the rattan carrying frames and in some fish traps (Fig. 23). Here the warp strips cross one another at an angle, at each meeting place enclosing the horizontal foundation strips. Unlike the second weave described, the warp strips do not pass alternately above and below the horizontal foundation, but retain the same relation to it throughout the entire length of each strip. A coiled weave (Fig. 24) is used in the manufacture of tobacco boxes (Plate XIX) and in the rims of women's baskets. In this type the foundation consists of a series of horizontal rattan strips or rods which are sewed together in the following manner. A narrow strip A passes over two of these parallel rods 2 and 3 in a left handed spiral. At the top of the loop the strip passes under a similar strip B which binds rod 2 to the one above. Passing downward inside the basket, the strip A goes beneath the strip C which binds rods 3 and 4 together. These are drawn tightly while damp, thus forcing the foundation rods so closely together as to make the basket practically water-tight. Pitch from the tabon-tabon nuts may also be rubbed over the outside surface, thus making the receptacle impervious to water.

FIG. 22.

FIG. 23.


In the great majority of baskets the surface is divided into three parallel zones or decorative bands. These are produced by making a slight variation in the weave, by the use of blackened strips of bamboo and rattan, or by substituting in their place the black cuticle of a fern.

As a rule the women of this tribe are not good potters and take little pride in their work. In some districts the art has been entirely lost, and the people depend on the coast natives for their cooking utensils. At the village of Bansalan the women were found still to be proficient in their work. After the dampened clay had been carefully kneaded in order to remove lumps and gravel, the bottom of the jar was moulded with the fingers and placed on a dish which was turned on a bit of cloth or a board and answered the purpose of a potter's wheel. As the dish was turned with the right hand the operator shaped the clay with the fingers of the left adding fresh strips of material from time to time until the desired size was obtained. The final shaping was done with a wooden paddle and the jar was allowed to dry, after which it was smoothed off with a stone. When ready for firing it was placed in the midst of a pile of rubbish, over which green leaves were placed to cause a slow fire.

Other dishes are made by splitting a cocoanut in half and removing the "meat." This is readily accomplished by the use of a scraper fitted with a rough iron blade (Fig. 25), over which the concave side or the half nut is drawn. The cocoanut meat is used for food and oil.


A little later we shall describe the active part woman takes in the planting and care of the fields, but now we shall take up in some detail the industry in which she stands pre-eminent, the preparation and weaving of hemp.

The hemp ordinarily stripped by the men is considered too fine to be used in the manufacture of clothing, so a smaller stripping device is employed by the woman (Plate XX). On this she cleans the outer layers of the hemp stalk, from which a stronger and coarser thread can be obtained. The fiber is tied in a continuous thread and is wound onto a reel. The warp threads are measured on sharpened sticks driven into a hemp or banana stalk, and are then transferred to a rectangular frame (Plate XXI). The operator, with the final pattern in mind, overties or wraps with waxed threads, such portions of the warp as she desires to remain white in the completed garment. So carefully does she wrap these sections, that, when the thread is removed from the frame and placed in the liquid dye, no portion of the coloring matter penetrates to the portions thus protected. If a red color is desired the root of the sikarig[17] palm is scraped and the scrapings placed in bark vats filled with cold water. The thread is first washed in, and is later boiled with the dye for a half hour, after which it is placed in a basket to drain and dry. The process is repeated daily for about two weeks, or until the thread assumes a brick red color. If a purple hue is desired a little lime is added to the dye. Black is obtained by a slightly different method. The leaves, root, and bark of the pinarrEm tree are crushed in water. This yields a black liquor which is poured into a jar containing the thread and the whole is placed over a slow fire where it remains until the liquid is near the boiling point. When this is reached the thread is removed and placed in a gourd, the open end of which fits over the jar so as to catch the steam coming from the dye. After a time the thread is removed and dried, and the process is repeated until at last a permanent black is obtained. After the coloring is complete the thread is again placed on the rectangular frame, the over-tying is removed and the warp is ready for the loom (Plate XXII.) In the loom (Plate XXIII) the threads encircle a bamboo pole attached to the wall, and are held tense by a strap which passes around the waist of the operator. The weft threads are forced up against the fabric by means of the comber board and are beaten in with a baton. The warp threads are held in their relative positions, first by the comber board, second by loops which pass under the lower threads and over a small stick or lease rod, and lastly by passing over and under, or around, other lease rods. These are rolled away as the work progresses.

[17] Morinda Bracteata Roxb.

[18] Woof threads are generally of one color. A somewhat similar process used in Java is described by SIR THOS. RAFFLES in The History of Java, Vol. I, p. 189.

[Transcriber's note: Although footnote 2 appears on the same page as the above paragraph, it is not clear to what particular part of that paragraph it refers.]

After the cloth is removed from the loom it is polished. A long pole of palma brava is fitted into a notch in the roof. The operator seats herself on the floor with a smooth board before her, or in her lap, and on it places the dampened cloth. A shell is fitted over the lower end of the pole, which is bent and made bowlike, until the shell rests on the cloth. It is then ironed rapidly to and fro until the fabric has received a high polish (Plate XXIV).

The woman's duties do not end with the manufacture of cloth, for all the garments worn by the members of the tribe are the result of her handiwork. She sews the strips of hemp cloth into skirts, men's trousers, carrying bags, and sometimes into jackets. The women devote hours of labor to these jackets, covering arms, necks, and waist bands with colored embroidery or designs in applique, while on the better garments they place elaborate designs in beads or shell disks.

After the evening meal is over the women of the household gather around the flickering lights, and until far into the night work on these garments, bead necklaces, or other ornaments.

Only a few of the weavers attempt to make the peculiar chocolate-colored head covering worn by the magani. For these kerchiefs the woman weaves a square cotton cloth of the desired size, and at one corner attaches a small brass hook. Joined to the hook, by means of a chain, is a loop which fits over the toes of the operator, thus enabling her to keep the fabric taut while her hands are left free for work. Small sections of this cloth are raised and are wrapped with waxed thread, so that when the fabric is dyed these portions will not receive the coloring matter (Plate XXV). Later the overtying is removed, leaving small white rings or squares on a chocolate-colored background. These cloths are meant primarily for the warriors, but expert weavers, who are under the protection of a certain powerful spirit, are also permitted to wear an upper garment of this material.

A considerable part of the man's time is consumed in preparation for, or actual participation in, hunting or warfare, but in addition to this he does a goodly portion of the work in the fields, and is the house builder. When a man is about to erect a dwelling he notifies his friends to come and aid him. This they will do without pay, but when in need of similar services they will expect and will receive similar help. All sorts of house-furnishings, such as spoons, meat blocks, or rice mortars are made by the man, and not infrequently, he assists in the making or waterproofing of baskets. A few of the old men of Cibolan still engage in the manufacture of small shell disks with which valuable suits are decorated, but the greater part of those now in use have been inherited, or are purchased from neighboring peoples. The men carve beads out of "Job's tears"[19] and make them into necklaces. For this purpose a peculiarly carved and decorated stick is employed (Plate XXVI). This is placed in the palm of the left hand so that the thumb and forefinger can hold the seed which fits into a depression in the top. A knife in the right hand of the artist is worked over the seed thus cutting a line into which dirt is rubbed. Women's combs are made by shaping a half circle out of light wood and then cutting teeth into it with a saw-like blade of tin or iron.

[19] Coix lachryma Johi L.

Among the men, as with the women, certain industries are monopolized by a few individuals. In this community no men stand higher in the estimation of their fellows than do the smiths and the casters of copper. The writer spent many hours watching I-o, the brass and copper worker of Cibolan, while he shaped bells, bracelets, and betel boxes at his forge on the outskirts of the village (Plate XXVII). Feathered plungers, which worked up and down in two bamboo cylinders, forced air through a small clay-tipped tube into a charcoal fire. This served as a bellows, while a small cup made of straw ashes formed an excellent crucible. The first day I watched I-o, he was making bells. Taking a ball of wax the size of a bucket shot, he put it on the end of a stick (Fig. 26a), and over this moulded the form of a bell in damp ashes obtained from rice straw (b). When several bells were thus fashioned they were dipped in melted wax and were turned on a leaf until smooth, after which an opening was cut through the wax at the bottom of each form (c). Strips of wax were rolled out and laid in shallow grooves which had been cut in the sides of the bells and were pressed in, at intervals, with a small bamboo knife (d). The top stick was then withdrawn, leaving an opening down to the wax ball inside. Into this hole a thin strip of wax was inserted and was doubled back on itself so as to form a hanger (e). For three days the forms were allowed to harden and were covered with several coats of damp straw ashes. Finally they were laid in a bed of the same material with a thin strip of wax leading from each bell to a central core (f). [FIG. 26] The whole, with the exception of the top of the central wax strip, was covered with a thick coating of damp ashes, and when this had hardened pieces of copper, secured from broken gongs, were placed in the crucible, melted and poured into the open end of the clay form. The molten metal took the place of the wax as it was dissolved and flowed to all parts where it had been. After being dropped in water the form was broken open, revealing six nearly perfect little bells which were ready for use as soon as the ashes were removed from them. The same method was used for all other casting. Clay forms were made as desired, were covered with wax, and the final coating of ashes applied before the casting. The workers in copper and brass are under the care and guidance of a spirit, Tolus ka towangan, for whom they make a yearly ceremony, Gomek towangan.



[Transcriber's note: Two different figures on different pages are both labeled FIG. 26.]

Of even greater importance are the smiths who are also under the care of a powerful spirit for whom the Gomek-gomanan ceremony is celebrated each year, just prior to the planting time. Their forges are hidden away in the hemp fields, and I was repeatedly informed that no woman might see the smith at work. Whether or no such a rule is rigidly enforced at all times I cannot say, but at no time did I see a woman about the forge while the fire was burning, and although I was allowed to see and photograph the process, my wife was at all times prevented from doing so. The forge differs in no material respects from that used by the brass casters, except that hollowed out logs replace the bamboo tubes, and that a metal anvil and iron hammers are used. After an iron knife or spear head has been roughly shaped, the smith splits the edge to a slight depth and inserts a band of steel. The iron is pounded down on the harder metal and the whole is brought to a white heat in the charcoal fire. Removing it to the anvil the smith gives the blade one or two light blows and returns it to the fire. This is repeated many times before he begins to add the heavy strokes which finally weld the iron and steel together. The blade having been given its final shape is again heated and is held above a tube of water until the glowing metal begins to turn a yellowish green, when it is plunged into the cold water. This process, repeated many times, gives a fair temper to the whole weapon. Charcoal for the fire is secured by burning logs and chilling them suddenly with cold water.

Brass wire, secured in trade, is made into bracelets in the following manner. In order to soften it and make it more easily worked the roll of wire is heated until it begins to turn grey, when it is allowed to cool and is scraped, so as to restore the yellow color. One end is laid on an anvil made of an iron strip on a wooden block (Plate XXVII), and is cut into various designs by means of metal dies. A wooden cone is used as a form, about which the wire is placed in order to shape and measure it.

Hemp[20] grows wild in the Davao District and the Bagobo have, for generations, used it in the manufacture of their clothing. In recent years the demand for fiber has shown the people an easy way to secure the trade articles which they desire and, as a result, rather extensive plantings are found even in the more remote districts. The women strip a large part of the fiber in local use, but all that prepared for trade is produced by the men. When the ever-present cogon grass begins to invade a clearing, the young hemp is planted. In about eighteen months it has grown to a height of some sixteen feet and is ready to be cut. The man goes to the fields, cuts down some stalks and, having removed the leaves, splits off the outer fiber layers from the cellular matter of the interior, using a bone knife for this purpose. When he has accumulated a sufficient number of strips he carries them to the hemp machine (Fig. 27). This consists of a knife which rests on a wooden block. The handle turns on a pivot and the end is drawn upwards by means of a bent twig, or sapling, which acts as a spring. This spring is lowered and the knife blade raised by means of a foot treadle; a strip of hemp is laid on the block; the foot pressure is removed, and the knife descends. Taking a firm hold of one end of the strip, the operator draws it toward him under the blade, thus removing the pulp and leaving the free hemp threads. These are hung in the sun until dry, when they are tied in bundles ready to be carried to the coast. The work is hard and, unless necessity forces him to greater effort, a man seldom engages in it for more than three or four days in a month. He thinks his duty ceases with this expenditure of energy and, unless he is fortunate enough to possess animals or slaves, is quite content to allow his wife, or wives, to carry the product to the coast trader.

[20] Musa textilis.


During ceremonies and at festivals a fermented drink made of sugar cane is served, and in anticipation of its pleasurable effects the Bagobo is willing to expend a considerable amount of effort. The juice of the cane is extracted by means of a press made of two logs arranged in parallel horizontal positions, so that the end of a wooden lever can slip under one and rest in a groove cut in the other (Fig. 28). The cane is placed in the groove and the operator bears his weight on the lever, thus squeezing out the juice. After being boiled with the bark of certain trees and lime juice, the liquor is sealed in jars or bamboo tubes and is stored away until needed.


The sago palm is found in parts of the Bagobo territory, and in times of need, the people make temporary camps near to the sago districts, where they prepare the flour. This is done in the same manner as is fully described on page 140.

The most important thing in the life of the Bagobo is the care of the rice, for on this crop he depends for the greater part of his food supply, and by its condition he can ascertain with what favor he is looked upon by the spirits. So closely is the cultivation of this cereal coupled with the religious beliefs that it is necessary, in this relation, to describe the ceremonies connected with it.

We have previously stated that the incursion of the cogon grass into the fields makes necessary some new clearings each year. In the month of December a constellation known as Balatik appears in the sky. This has a double significance; first, it is the reminder for the yearly sacrifice; and secondly, it notifies all workers that the tools, which are to be used in making new clearings, shall be placed in readiness. All those who expect to prepare new fields for themselves, or are to assist others in such work, gather at the forge of the local smith and there take part in a ceremony held in honor of his patron spirit. They carry with them offerings of rice and chickens which they cook in bamboo tubes, for food taken from a pot is not acceptable to this spirit. When all is ready the food is placed on a rice winnower, near to the forge, and on it the men lay their weapons and working knives (Plate XXIX). Standing before the offering the smith, in a droning voice, calls on the spirit, beseeching him to come and eat of the food, to accept the weapons and tools, and having done so to be watchful over the workers during the clearing time, so that they may not be injured in the work or be molested by enemies. The prayer finished, the smith eats a little of the food, and all the men follow his example, but no woman may so much as touch this offering. Meanwhile other food which can be eaten by all has been prepared. After the meal the weapons and tools which are to be used during the clearing time are removed, but, as they now belong to the spirit, they can never be disposed of without first recompensing him. During this day there is a strict prohibition against music and dancing. For three days the men abstain from work and the forge stands idle. When the fire is again lighted the first knife made is the property of the spirit.

With the ending of the period of taboo the workers go to the fields and, in the center of each, place a tambara[21] fitted with a white dish containing betel nut. This is an offering to Eugpamolak Manobo, who is besought to drive from the field any tigbanawa or tagamaling[22] who may live there, to keep the workers in good health, to allow an abundant crop, and, finally, to make the owner rich and happy. The weeds, brush, and trees, after being cut and allowed to dry are fired, while the logs remaining after this initial burning are piled together and again set on fire, and the field is ready for the planting. No soil is broken and not a seed goes into the ground until the spirits again designate the time, by placing the constellation Marara in the sky. This appears early in April, and is followed by a period of great activity in the fields. If, for any reason, the owner of the land cannot plant at this time, he has two or more opportunities given him when the constellations Mamari and Bwaya appear, the latter toward the end of June.

[21] See p. 66, Fig. 12.

[22] Evil spirits which are classed with the buso. See p. 107.

When the workers go to the field on the day set for the planting they enter at one corner and proceed directly across it to the far left hand corner where they erect a small house or place a tambara which is known as pEmEg'ge. As soon as it is complete, the mabalian begin to call on the spirits. Manama[23] is called first and after him other spirits, according to their rank and power. They are informed that the planting is about to begin and that the people are showing them this mark of respect so that they will not allow anything to interfere with the crop. This done, they go to the center of the field and place a second tambara, called parobanian, for the spirit Taragomi, who owns all food. Leaves pleasing to him and presents of food or bracelets are placed in it, as well as in his tambara found in the house.[24] The owner of the field takes the malayag, a large variety of rice, and plants it around the parobanian,[25] and as the last grain is planted the mabalian again starts her prayer, this time beginning with Taragomi. She asks for good crops, and protection for the field from all animals, blight and drought. Finally, she begs Eugpamolak Manobo to control the sun and winds so that they will always be favorable to the growing grain. Having thus done all in their power to secure the cooperation of the superior beings the men take their rice planters and real work begins.[26] The planter (Fig. 29) consists of a long shaft at one end of which is a metal blade while at the other is a bamboo clapper decorated with feathers. When this instrument is struck on the ground it digs a shallow hole an inch or more in depth, the clapper meanwhile keeping up an incessant noise. It is said by some that the rattle is intended to please the guardian spirit of the fields, but this does not seem to be the prevalent idea. The women follow the men, dropping seeds into the holes and pushing the soil over them with their feet.

[23] Eugpamolak Manobo.

[24] At Cibolan only brass objects are placed in this tambara.

[25] At Digos the mabalian does the planting and harvesting about the tambara, and the rice grown there is reserved as seed, for the next season.

[26] FATHER GISBERT relates that it is the custom to sacrifice a slave at this time, but this is denied by the datu consulted by the writer. See letters of FATHER GISBERT in BLAIR and ROBERTSON, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLIII; pp. 233-4.


At nightfall of the day in which the planting has been completed a mabalian cooks fish and rice, which she carries to the parobanian. Early next morning the family goes to the field and eats this offering which "belongs to Taragomi, so should be eaten at his house." From this time until harvest the fields must be guarded against birds and animals, but no further offerings take place unless unusual conditions should satisfy the owner that the spirits are demanding more gifts. When harvest time comes the owner and a few of his friends will go to the field and pull a few of the fresh stalks, which they place in the pEmEg'ge and parobanian, meanwhile addressing the spirits, and the cutting of the rice begins. This is done by women who, for this purpose, employ a small knife called gElat (Plate XXIXd). The last grain to be cut is that about the parobanian. The mabalian cooks a little of the new rice in the house and places a part of it in the various tambara and shrines; then, having placed a number of rice stalks on the floor, she offers them one by one to the spirits. Not until she has finished can any of the prepared food be eaten. The balance of the crop lies in the sun until dry, when it is tied in bundles and placed in the granary.

When all the harvesting is finished the people will make a festival known as Gatokbia-an, or pakakaro. Ordinarily each family will have its own celebration, but at times all the inhabitants of a village will join in one great celebration. The period of toil and doubt is past, the food supply is assured, and the people gather to give thanks. No New England Thanksgiving dinner is prepared with greater thought, or less regard for expense, than that which is made ready at this time. The finest of the rice, cocoanuts[sic], eggs, chickens, fish, shrimps, and many other edibles are prepared and placed in certain dishes which are dedicated to the spirits and are used only at this time. These plates are arranged in a row in the center of the room and the mabalian gather around them. Taking a wand of sandal wood in her hand one of the number waves it over the offerings, while she chants long prayers. Beginning with the most powerful, she addresses the spirits one by one, thanking them for the care they have given to the growing grain and to the laborers, and for the bounteous harvest. Frequently individuals will interrupt the proceedings to place near to the mabalian a fine knife or some other prized object which they desire to have presented to the spirits as evidence of their gratitude. At first, it is a little hard to understand this lavishness, but it transpires that the former owners still have possession of these objects, and that the spirits offer no objections to their use, so long as their ownership is not disputed, truly a case of eating the pie but still having it.

The knives and other implements which have been used in the fields are laid on a large basket filled with rice, "in order that they may eat, and, therefore, have no cause to injure their owners." Another large dish of rice is set aside as a special offering. In some cases this is taken out to the fields, where it is eaten by the wife, or wives of the host; but in Cibolan it is kept in the house until the next morning, when it is eaten by all the members of the family. The ceremonial eating of this rice causes the supply to last longer and assures abundant rains for the succeeding crop. Part of the food from the dishes is placed in the tambara and shrines, and then all the guests are permitted to feast and make merry. Unlike most Bagobo ceremonies this one lacks the music of the agongs,[27] for only bamboo guitars, flutes, and the bolang-bolang are permitted at this time. The last named instrument is made by placing a board on a rice mortar; the women gather around it with their wooden pestles and beat a rythmical[sic] tattoo. This concludes the festival proper, but many guests will remain for two or three days to enjoy the hospitality of their host.

[27] Copper gongs.

On the third morning after the festival the family and some friends will celebrate BagkEs "the tying together." The dishes in which food was offered are tied together and are carried to the rice field where, with great solemnity, the little dish in the parobanian is removed and placed among the others, while the people tell it that the other plates have come to take it away, but that it will be returned to its home the following year. The family goes back to the village in silence and after tying all the dishes together place them in the rice granary.

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