Ifugao Wood Carvers' Village

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The Ifugao Wood Carvers’ Village or Itogon Wood Carvers’ Village is a tourist site in Baguio where workshops of Ifugao wood carvers can be found. High quality wood carvings of various types and sizes are sold at the village, usually at considerably lower prices than elsewhere in Baguio.
Baguio Wood Carvings by Allan Reyes

Contents

Location

The village stretches for 3 kilometers along Asin Road on the way to the Asin Hot Springs, another popular tourist attraction. It is located 5 kilometers outside Baguio City limits, in the Naguilan area, accessible by public jeepney as well as by taxi or private car.

History

The tradition of wood carving in Baguio is said to have originated in the Ifugao barrio of Hapao in the town of Hungduan. Many of the Ifugaos would stay in the forest carving wood for days. The Ifugao wood carvers of Hapao are generally acknowledged to be the best in the Cordillera region. Thus in the years following World War II in the Philippines there was a mass exodus of wood carvers from Hapao to Baguio, where there was an increasing demand for local crafts as souvenirs for tourists.

While there are many wood carvers’ shops throughout the Baguio area, this area along Asin Road has the largest concentration of carvers’ workshops. The village was built for the wood carvers during the term of Hapao wood carver and tribal elder Reynaldo Lopez Nauyac, as captain of the Asin Road Barangay. In recent years, however, Nauyac has returned to Hapao and is fighting against the emigration of wood carvers from his hometown.

High quality wood for carving such as sangilo (ironwood) is sourced not only from the lush forests of the Cordilleras but from neighboring provinces, including [[Pangasinan, La Union, Aurora, and Quezon. Another popular type of wood for carving is kamagong. Thus a major obstacle for the wood carvers was the total log ban in Aurora and Quezon imposed in 2005 following the devastating Typhoon Yoyong. The carvers have been forced to use different types of wood other than the favored kamagong and other high quality woods that they sourced from these provinces.

Products

A great variety of carvings, from small keychains to life-sized statues, can be found at the Wood Carvers’ Village. The subjects of the carvings vary widely but are mostly motifs closely associated with the Cordilleras, such as bul’ul or indigenous people and animals. Also common are religious icons, furniture, household items, keychains, and signs. The carvers also make items to order.

The carved items are popular with foreigners, especially Americans, Japanese, and Taiwanese. Many of the carvings are made for export. Common motifs can be seen that show foreign influence, such as carvings of a man in a barrel and imitations of African wooden artifacts. There are fears that the traditional motifs will disappear, especially as the indigenous rituals and way of life for which they were originally created are beginning to die out.

References

Citation

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