Igorot back basket


Humanities Info Card | Updated 5 years ago

Registration Number: F3006

Location: Manila, The Philippines

Stitch Type: Wicker work; plaiting; twining

Collection Date: 1966

Description: Made from sturdy rattan and palm leaf, this basket includes a matching hat and headband. It has a natural colour with a square box base plaited in palm leaf and a conical main body of rattan wicker work. The Basket has a flat base and so it can be placed on the ground in a stable position.

Curator Story


This type of basket is commonly used by the Igorot people for carrying items on their back. One of the larger items in the collection, this is a good example of basketry in working life. The headband would traditionally be attached to the basket, with the hat sitting on the forehead of the user when worn. In this way, the basket would function similar to a backpack, although the head would support weight instead of the shoulders. The Igorot peoples who make such baskets are ethnic highlanders from the Philippines Cordillera region on Luzon island (upper north east Philippines).

The term "Igorot" can be roughly translated into "Mountain People", however this is more of a collective name for different tribes living in the region, rather than a term that describes one cohesive cultural group. Many were experts in rice farming, a staple ingredient in traditional cuisine. The Igorot people are well documented ethnographically, perhaps due to their historical notoriety as head-hunters, a tradition that is no longer practiced. Having strongly resisted Spanish colonisation during the 15th and 16th centuries, Igorot culture remained largely separate from Spanish influence in the lowlands. Today, many "Igorot" have retained a traditional lifestyle, choosing now to celebrate their culture, sharing it with others through tourism.