Benguet Museum

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Benguet Museumis located at Capitol, La Trinidad, 2601 Benguet Cordillera Administrative Region. This serves as the provincial museum. It contains ethnographic materials relating to the indigenous people of Benguet and this includes artifacts and mummies. Based on history, only 10 cultures mummified their dead. This includes the Incas and Egyptians. It was believed to be a way to assure immortality. Here in the Philippines, it is the Ibalois, Kankana-eys, and Kalanguyas of Benguet who practice mummification. The knowledge of the process was passed down through the centuries via oral history. This tradition disappeared in the 18th century due to the introduction of Christianity in the country. Inside the museum, visitors can find a chart wall containing the step-by-step procedure of mummification. First, the person is made to drink a salt solution just before or right after death in order to help preserve the digestive system. The body is undressed and bathed with freshwater. The body is position on and tied to a chair. It will be set under low fire to preserve the tissues. When it starts to bloat, a jar is put under the chair to catch the fluid, which is considered sacred. At noontime, it is taken out to the sun. The outer skin is peeled off by the elders of the community to help in the drying process, without affecting the color of the skin. The sun-drying takes from a month to two years, depending on the family's capacity to hold successive feasts. Meanwhile, the juice of pounded leaves of the diwdiw tree, besodak shrub, kapany vine and native guava is continuously rubbed over the body. Tobacco smoke is blown into it through the mouth, to preserve the internal tissues and drive out worms. When the body has dried and can be lifted, it is carried into the cave.


Reference

Benguet Museum (accessed on September 13, 2007).

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