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- A Study in Tinguian Folk-Lore - 6/14 -

Relations 63 to 74 appear as pure explanatory tales, accounting for the existence and appearance of celestial bodies and animals in their present state; they also account for the possession of fire and of many prized objects, such as jars and agate beads. Incidentally many essential traits and old customs come out, such, for instance, as those of war and mourning, which appear in connection with the origin of the kalau. [72]

With few exceptions the myths of this division correspond to present beliefs; the spirits are those known to-day; the towns mentioned are now existing or their former locations are well known. They have thus the appearance of being of more recent origin than those of the first division, yet it is worthy of note that there is little in them which seems foreign to or out of keeping with the older tales.


The last division may be said to be made up of fables, for the story tellers without hesitation label them as fictions. The last of these appears to be only a worked over incident of myth 56, in which the big bird Banog carries the hero to its nest, from which he escapes by holding to the wings of the young birds. It is possible that more of these fables are likewise incidents in tales prevalent among the Tinguian, but not heard by the writer. Whether or no this be true, it is certain that most of these stories are well known to the Ilocano of the coast and the other Christianized natives throughout the archipelago. Comparison with the folk-lore from other regions shows that these stories are by no means confined to the Philippines. The chief incidents in the narrative of the turtle and the monkey have been recorded from the Kenyah of Borneo [73] and from the northern peninsula of Celebes; [74] the race between the shell and the carabao is told in British North Borneo [75] in regard to the plandok and crab, while it is known to European children as the race between the turtle and the hare. The threat of the mosquito in 84 is almost identical with that recorded by Evans in Borneo; [76] while many incidents in the fable of Dogidog [77] are found in the Iban story of Simpang Impang. [78]

When comparing the Tinguian versions of these fables with those of the Ilocano, one is impressed with the fact that while the incidents upon which they are founded are often identical, the stories themselves have frequently been moulded and changed by the tellers, who have introduced bits of old customs and beliefs until they reflect, in a way, the prevalent ideas of the people. Thus in the story of the magic poncho, [79] which is evidently of Spanish introduction, the owner is identified as the banbantay--a well-known minor spirit. Again, the first part of tale 85 is identical with that of the Ilocano, but ends with the parents of the groom preparing the things used in the pakálon--a very necessary part of the Tinguian marriage ceremony.

The footnotes have called attention to the many incidents which have their parallels in other districts. Reference to these shows that a large percentage are found in the islands toward the south. While recognizing that similarity of incidents does not necessarily mean identity of origin, we must still give full credit to the effects of borrowing, even over great distances. The easy communication along the coast during the past four hundred years and the contact with Spanish and Christianized officials and traders will readily explain the likeness of the tales in Division III to those held in distant islands, or even in Europe, but, as just noted, these are now undergoing change. Doubtless a similar inflow had been taking place, although at a slower rate, long before the Spaniards reached the Islands, and Tinguian mythology has grown up as the result of blending of native tales with those of other areas, the whole being worked over and reshaped until it fitted the social setting.

Previous writers--among them Ratzel and Graebner [80]--have sought to account for certain resemblances in culture, between Malaysia, Polynesia, and America, by historical connection. A part of our material--such as that of the blood-clot child (p. 125), [81] the rape of the maiden by the vine which carries her to the sky (p. 33), [82] the magic flight (p. 75), [83] and magic growth (p. 38) [84]--may seem to lend support to such a theory. These similarities are assuredly suggestive and interesting, but it appears to the writer that the material is too scanty and the folklore of intervening lands too little known to justify us in considering them as convincing proof of borrowing over such immense distances. [85]


Our study has brought out certain general results. We have seen that Tinguian folklore has much in common with that of other tribes and lands. While a part of this similarity is doubtless due to borrowing--a process which can still be seen at work--a considerable portion of the tales is probably of local and fairly recent origin, while the balance appears to be very old. These older tales are so intimately interwoven with the ceremonies, beliefs, and culture of this people that they may safely be considered as having been developed by them. They are doubtless much influenced by present day conditions, for each story teller must, even unconsciously, read into them some of his own experiences and the current beliefs of the tribe. At the same time these traditional accounts doubtless exercise a potent influence on the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the people. In Tinguian society, where custom still holds undisputed sway, these well-known tales of past times must tend to cast into the same mould any new facts or experiences which come to them.

We believe that we are justified when we take the viewpoint of the Tinguian and consider "the stories of the first times" as essentially very old. How old it is impossible to state definitely, but a careful analysis of our material justifies us in believing that they reflect a time before the people possessed terraced rice fields, when domestic work animals were still unknown, and the horse had not yet been introduced into their land. That these are not recent events is attested by the great part they all now play in the ceremonial and economic life. It is evident that outside influences of great importance were introduced at a period later than the time when the Chinese first began to trade along the coasts of the Philippines for the prized jars, which play such an important rôle in the mythology, are not to be identified as those of native make but are ancient Chinese vessels dating back at least to the fourteenth and perhaps even to the tenth century. [86]

It is probable that the glass, porcelain, and agate beads, which are second only to the jars in importance, are exceedingly old. Many ancient specimens are still in use and are held for as fabulous prices as are those found among the interior tribes of Borneo. Nieuwenhuis has shown that the manufacture of beads had become a great industry in the middle ages, and had extended even to China and Japan, whence the products may have spread contemporaneously with the pottery. [87]

We have seen that, for the most part, the life, customs, and beliefs which appear in our reconstruction of "the first times" agrees closely with present conditions; certain things which seem formerly to have been of prime importance--such as the sending of a betel-nut covered with gold to invite guests to a festival or ceremony--appear to have their echo in present conditions. The betel-nut which played such a momentous part in the old times still holds its place in the rituals of the many ceremonies, although it is not now much used in daily life. The magic of to-day is less powerful than formerly, but is still a tremendous force. The communication of the ancient people with other members of the animate world, as well as with the inanimate and spiritual, and their metamorphosis into animals and the like, offers nothing strange or inconsistent to the people of to-day. They even now talk to jars, they converse with spirits who come to them through the bodies of their mediums, and people only recently deceased are known to have had the power of changing themselves, at will, into other forms.

In short, there is no sharp break between the mode of thought of to-day and that exhibited in the folklore. It is true that the tales give sanction to some things not in agreement with Tinguian usage--such, for instance, as the marriage of relatives, or the method of disposing of the dead--and it may be that we have here a remembrance of customs which long ago fell into disuse.

In a previous paper [88] the writer showed that there have been many migrations into Abra from the north, south, and west. A part of the emigrants have become thoroughly amalgamated with the Tinguian people and have doubtless introduced some part of their material culture and beliefs. This helps us to understand such conflicts as we have already noted in regard to the place held by thunder and lightning in the spirit world, as to the future abode of the spirits of the departed, as well as other discrepancies which the limits of this paper have prevented us from discussing.

It is not impossible that those customs of "the first times," which are at variance with those of to-day, may represent older ideas which have been swamped, or, on the other hand, the memory of the strange customs once practiced by the emigrants may have caused them to be attributed to the people of the tales.

Finally, we believe that a study of Tinguian mythology has shown us that we can gain a real knowledge of the past of a people through their folklore; that we can secure an insight into their mental life; and can learn something of the valuation they attach to certain of their activities and beliefs, which to us may seem at the surface trite and trivial.




Two women are gathering greens when a vine wraps around one and carries her to the sky. She is placed near to spring, the sands of which are rare beads. Small house near by proves to be home of the sun. Woman hides until owner goes into sky to shine, then goes to house and prepares food. Breaks up fish stick and cooks it. It becomes fish. Single grain of rice cooked in pot the size of a "rooster's egg" becomes sufficient for her meal. Goes to sleep in house. Sun returns and sees house which appears to be burning. Investigates and finds appearance of flames comes from beautiful woman. Starts to prepare food, but awakens visitor. She vanishes. Each day sun finds food cooked for him. Gets big star to take his place in sky; returns home unexpectedly and surprises woman. They chew betel-nut together and tell their names. The quids turn to agate beads, showing them to be related, and thus suitable for marriage. Each night sun catches fish, but woman refuses it, and furnishes meat by cooking fish stick.

Woman decides to go with husband on daily journey through sky. When in middle of heavens she turns to oil. Husband puts her in a bottle and drops it to earth. Bottle falls in woman's own town, where she

A Study in Tinguian Folk-Lore - 6/14

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