Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Figure, One of a Pair

Late 19th–early 20th century
Ifugao people
H. 23 1/4 × W. 15 1/4 × D. 5 5/8 in. (59.1 × 38.7 × 14.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Fred and Rita Richman, 2013
Accession Number:
Not on view
One of a pair of male and female figures depicting rice deities (bulul) from the Ifugao people of northern Luzon Island in the Philippines. Each figure is depicted standing with knees gently flexed on top of a square base with indented ridge which represents a stylized rice mortar. The edges of these supports are notched and their surfaces adorned with irregular engraved zigzag motifs. Whilst the male figure has outstretched arms which are carved as separate pieces and attach to the torso, the arms of this female figure are integral to the piece, hanging down at the front so that the hands rest easily just above the knees. The heads of each figure are similar in form with smooth domed crania. Large semi-circular ears at each side feature a large piercing for the insertion of an ear ornament. The eyes appear as lozenge-shaped forms with slightly raised centers. The brow lines and noses are shown in low relief and the mouths as simple incised lines.

Male and female pairs of rice granary gods such as these bulul represent a class of deities with human attributes who are associated with bountiful harvests. Many of the finest carvings of the genre are remarkably naturalistic, almost approaching portraiture. These figures were usually stored in the granary, along with the so-called "priest’s box," a container with lid which housed magic materials used by the priest in various rituals. The reddish brown wood of each of these figures now has a black patina due to the accretion of material over the course of time from seasonal rites associated with encouraging successful harvests of grain for the community.

Maia Nuku
[Marc L. Felix , Brussels, until 1977]; Fred and Rita Richman, Sarasota, FL, 1977–2013

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