New York City Travel
Philippines exhibits and permanent collections in the museum. Guide and description for visitors.    
American Museum of Natural History.


Through the center of the philippine islands hall of the American Museum of Natural History will be found, first the model of an Igorot woman weaving on a native loom, next the model of a typical house of the better class, then a full-sized outrigger canoe, a water filter with jars and rack and lastly one of the tree-houses of the Lake Lanao Moros.
The visitor should now examine the exhibits on the right or east side of the hall.

The Negrito collection of the philippine islands is first. These pygmy peoples are believed to be descended from the first inhabitants of the islands. They are true savages, depending for food upon the chase, neither living in villages nor building stable huts, but roaming through the mountains in small groups of a few families each. They are fleet of foot, and their usual weapons are a lance of bamboo, a palm wood bow and a quiver of poisoned arrows. They use as ornaments bamboo combs, feather headdresses, rings and bracelets of brass or copper, and braided leg bands of hog bristles, which are supposed to give them endurance and make them fleet of foot. They scarify the body, and such scars are their most highly valued adornment. For household utensils they have only a few cocoanut cups or sea shells, rude boxes, the primitive fire-saw and a few crude musical instruments.

Then follows a display of specimens from philippine islands like the Mangyan, Tinguiane, Manobo, Tirurays and Igorot tribes. Of these the collection from the Igorot is the largest and most representative.
The Igorot form the largest family inhabiting Luzon and include the Dadayag, Kalinga, Ibelao, Ipukao and numerous other tribes bearing various local names. They constitute a fine race of agricultural, head-hunting barbarians. They are copper-colored and have high cheek-bones, flat nose and thick lips. Their hair is straight, black and in many areas is worn long.

The men are exceedingly well developed and possess great strength and power of endurance. The women are well formed and as erect and graceful as any women in the Orient; their dress varies from a mere apron of leaves to a handsome jacket and skirt with stripes of blue, crimson and white. Tattooing is common among both sexes. With the men there are two chief motives in tattooing: first, it gives a man's war record, telling that he has taken a human head; second, it is esthetic. The esthetic is the governing motive for women's tattoo. The Igorot commonly manufacture iron and steel bolos, spears and battle axes, also earthenware and a great variety of cloth of native cotton and of tree-bark fiber. Their warlike proclivities are rep-resented in a number of specimens of head-axes and head-hunting baskets.

The name given to these baskets from the philippine islands is a misnomer, as they are used chiefly for carrying food and articles of personal property. The musical instruments of the Igorot consist of gongs and clappers; their ornaments are generally of brass and copper. The most highly prized ornament, however, is the shell of the pearl oyster, Meleagrina margaritif era, which the Igorot obtain in trade.

Adjoining the Igorot collections is a series of specimens from the Samal and Sulu Moros, who constitute the Mohammedan population and are the latest corners to the islands. Their conversion to Mohammedanism by Arabian missionaries in the twelfth century was undoubtedly the means of making them dominant everywhere south of the Visayan Islands. They were the "Norsemen" of the Orient, adventurous navigators and fierce fighters. Their history is the climax of Malay piratical power, which was felt for centuries for a thousand miles both north and south of their strongholds in Jolo. Their warlike character is indicated by the predominance of krises, both straight and curved, spears and shields. Their domestic life is represented by examples of pottery and basketry; their musical attainments by gongs, clappers and xylophones; their skill in metal work by lime and betel-nut boxes, vases and jars and by their weapons.

Adjoining the Moro collection of the American Museum of Natural History are two cases showing the knives and blow-guns of the peoples inhabiting the Islands of Sumatra, Celebes and Java.

The western side of the hall is occupied entirely by a most elaborate collection from the Bagobo of southern Mindanao. This tribe, numbering a few thousands, forms one of the group of pagan Malay tribes living in villages back from the west coast of the Gulf of Davao. They are a people of singular beauty with clear, golden brown skin, earnest wide-open eyes and mobile faces changing from deep seriousness in repose to sparkling vivacity in conversation.

In dress both the men and the women of the philippine islands display unusually good taste. The men wear short trousers and open jackets and carry richly beaded bags on their backs. The women are generally clad in scant-bodied, scarlet-sleeved waists and straight skirts, woven in pictured patterns. They generally adorn their heads with bright colored handkerchiefs, wear ivory and inlaid plugs in their ears and around their necks hang pendants of finely carved seeds, braided bead-work and strung flower petals. Attached to their carrying bags and dresses is generally a number of small bells. Both men and women chew the betel nut, and specimens of their lime and betel-nut boxes may be seen in the collection.

In weaving, the Bagobo woman has attained high skill in technique and continues to produce patterns which she has learned from her mother or from her grandmother. Their clothing is usually woven from hemp fiber. In the collection are excellent examples of their weaving art, including those having complex figures made by tying the warp before the weaving. In this instance the fiber is stretched on a long frame of bamboo, and to make a pattern the woman picks out a cluster of strands at varying intervals, binding each into knots with short lengths of hemp. So tightly are these clusters bound that when the whole warp is afterward dyed, no color can penetrate to the parts thus tied.

The Bagobo are fond of music, and many kinds of musical instruments are shown in the collections. Firm in their friendships, they are quick to resent an injury or wrong. They are fierce in warfare and frequently decapitate their enemies.

As a decorative feature of this hall of the American Museum of Natural History, but one which also tends to give unity and meaning to the exhibit, there is installed a wainscoting of native woods, which constitutes one of the largest and most authoritative collections in the world.

Other features are the examples of pottery and basketry upon the tops of the cases, and the framed mats, many of which are of beautiful design, arranged as a frieze.
Owing to lack of exhibition space, it is impossible to display the large collections (now in storage) from the Christian tribes inhabiting the islands.

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