Dance-shield „kalasag“

Object Dance-shield „kalasag“
Culture Northern Philippines, Luzon, Bontoc
Time 19th century
Dimensions Length 41,50 cm,  width 14 cm
Material Wood, lacquer (blood?), rattan
Supplementing Literature Back to room view

Small variants of the battle shield – like the one shown here – were used in ceremonial dances. They often show a plastically carved head in the middle of the shield. A thick patina indicates the repeated “feeding” with organic substances (chicken blood), as it was common before the dances, because the shield is symbolic for the protection of the warrior and therefore is supposed to attract the guardian spirits who are pleasantly agreed with the blood sacrifice. Two or two times two braided strong rattan ribbons are woven in to avoid splintering.

The shields of the Igorot are made of wood and ideally consist of one piece. The outside is convex with a protruding part in the middle. On the outside, two curved lines face each other and almost meet at the shield boss. This probably goes back to the salawaku hourglass shape. These are worked in a flat high relief. On high quality old shields like this example, this increase is more pronounced, on inferior younger shields it is only indicated by painting. The side facing inwards is concave, the curvature being less than on the outside. In the middle area, which is quite thick as a result, a piece of hemispherical hollow is hollowed out on the inside and in this area a vertical bar is left on the surface to serve as a handle. At the upper edge are two incisions which divide a quarter of the shield surface into three approximately equal sections. At the lower edge there is an ogival incision which divides another quarter of the shield surface into two slightly wider prongs. The rectangular type with tines is used by the Bontok, Kalinga and Tinggian.