Date: 20th century
Culture: Ifugao (Luzon, Philippines)
Credit: Gift of R. Weiss
Material: Carved wood
Size: 19” H x 15.5” W
On View: No
Bululs are highly stylized carvings of ancestor spirits. Traditionally, a shaman performs a ritual to “bring power” to the figures. During this time, the bululs are dipped in animal blood and covered in a layer of grease, which gives the wood a dark color. The figures are then placed in rice fields as a means of protection against evil forces and vermin. Bululs that have successfully protected a harvest are honored and “reanimated” each season. Unsuccessful ones are “retired”.
Most contemporary bululs are made specifically for sale to tourists. It is unclear whether this piece was made by an artisan for traditional use or for the tourist market.