Abstract: The Philippine Collection at The Field Museum contains over 10,000 objects, including hundreds of objects of personal adornment. As an intern at The Field Museum in the summer of 2012, I got to experience the collection first-hand and began examining six ornaments from the Ilongot peoples of the Philippines. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Ilongot wore ornaments to visually communicate social meaning about themselves, their villages, and their relationships. The Ilongot were a headhunting society with fearsome warriors who beheaded their enemies. These hunters wore delicately crafted earrings and headdresses to mark their masculinity and skill. Ornaments further marked the strength and importance of alliances and trading agreements and visibly demonstrated their wearers’ social standing, wealth, and cultural power at ceremonies. When collectors carried the objects from the Philippines to The Field Museum, they unavoidably projected their own cultural constructions onto the objects. In this way, the historical context and racial climate of the collecting culture is an important component in understanding the stories these objects have to tell. In addition, the ways museums choose to use and display the objects places further constructions upon them. Museums must practice active engagement both with members of the culture that produced the objects and with museum visitors to display the meaning that objects can communicate.
Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology
Carlson, Sarah E., "From the Philippines to The Field Museum: A Study of Ilongot (Bugkalot) Personal Adornment" (2013). Honors Projects. 45.