Ifugao Culture

Ifugao tribeThe Ifugao (Ifugaw, Ipugao, Ypugao, Hilipan, Quiangan) are world-famous for their spectacular rice terraces especially in Mayaoyao and Banaue where entire mountainsides are sculpted like giant steps. The national population is over 167,369 (NSO 1990). Concentrations in the province of Ifugao are in the municipalities of Banaue (25,400), Lagawe (15,615), Kiangan (21,329, NSO 1990), and Mayaoyao (23,330, NSO 1980). The language has been grouped in a number of ways; one of which is: (1) Kiangan-Hapao, (2) Banaue-Burnay, (3) Ayangan-Mayaoyao, (4) Hanglulu, (5) Tuwali, and (6) Keleyi (related to the Ikalahan). In the whole province, they number some 117,281 (1990 provincial estimates).

The basic subsistence technology is wet rice cultivation in massive rice terraces covering entire mountainsides, and dry cultivation of other crops like sweet potatoes. During off seasons, the terraces are planted with vegetables. Some amount of food gathering is still practiced, along with minimal hunting in the remaining forested areas. The group is noted for its wood carving—usually associated with ritual—and weaving.

The group is famous for its very complex indigenous religion marked by a cosmology that includes hundreds of deities. There are elaborate rituals that accompany personal and social events, participated in by choirs of ritual practitioners. Among the many celebrations is that of the elevation of a couple to the rank of kadangyan—the most prestigious rank in the society which involves the carving of a prestige bench—the hagabi. The Ifugao are famous, too, for their prodigious oral epic literature like the hudhod and the alim.

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