Friday, July 25, 2014

Kamagong Journals Part Eight: Filipino Art

A bulul carving is a traditional carving done by the igorot people of northern Luzon and used to guard the rice crops or in some healing ceremonies. Many non-igorot people keep a bulul statue by the front door as kind of a good luck talisman. While on some down time between trips in Baguio City, we went to a new art museum that contained a lot of these bulul statues along with more modern art. It was definitely worth the trip because I love wood carvings and this museum had them in spades.

As you can tell in the above picture, the bulul front and center is definitely male. I'm not sure what or who is driving this but if you visit many wood carving shops in the Philippines, the carvers definitely have a fascination with genitalia, male and female. Everywhere you look are penis and vagina carved into wood. Some like above, I could write off as art but much of it is pretty much in your face. One of the most common is a man standing in a barrel and when you pull the barrel off, a huge penis falls down towards you. On the female side you got nude women carvings which are meant to crush 'nuts' between their legs.

One of my dreams is to buy a container load of furniture similar to the one above and ship it back to the States where I can use some, give some away or perhaps sell it. I just love how native wood carvers can take odd chunk of wood and turn it into a work of art/functional chair like the one above which was in the museum. The mountain roads are full of carvers who make this chair look like plain old vanilla ice cream. This trip I did make a contact who does ship stuff to the States from the Philippines and perhaps in the future we might be able to make some sort of deal for part of a shipping container but to get an entire 2m x 2m x ?m tall container costs $1600 to ship. I would need to pack it full and sell a lot to recoup my costs on that one. So for now, I still dream of buying carved furniture and placing it in the perfect nooks of my home.

Just a sculpture that reaches out and grabs my interest. I've never seen something like this in any wood carving stands.

Another bulul statue sitting in the corner of the stairway.

Yet another large snag that has been carved and polished into a couch of sorts. I'm not sure what kind of tree this is from but it is absolutely gorgeous. I'm not sure this would fit in a 2m x 2m container anyway so I'll just have to view it in our trip slideshow from time to time.


warren said...

The last pic is truly'd need the right house, but wow what a focal piece that would be..I'd hate to sit on it!

edifice rex said...

If you study art much you'll see most all cultures felt the need to create, uh, anatomically correct art during certain periods but the Asian cultures (especially Japanese) seem to have taken it further than anybody else. And also, well, exaggerated things more than anyone else, let's say. I was a naive, little country girl when I went off to study art and it was an eye-opener to say the least! lol!

Ed said...

Warren - I sat on it and it wasn't all that comfortable. The only thing good about it was that I wasn't sitting on the floor. But yes I would still love to have it in a corner of my house, if I had a house big enough to have room for it.

Edifice Rex - I haven't studied art but I believe you. The anatomically correct art doesn't bother so much as the anatomically correct "barrel man" souvenirs that they produce so much of for tourists. I'm not sure if the makers or the people buying them to bring home surprise me more. Probably the latter. I went to the Philippines and all I got was this barrel man with a unusually large penis!

Anonymous said...

As lovely as they are that 'art' importing game from Asia is fraught. You'd really have to be getting them for next to nothing. The only possible way would be to establish a CoOp entity and have 300 of the artists ship the stuff to you and you all share profits from an on-line shop with you having a storefront in say St Louis or more realistically Chicago. Since the reality is, much as you might like them it's unlikely the farming community would spend enough in actual price or volume to make any money in Iowa. Of course you'd know your place best, but if I was to think of a target rich environment where you have the combo of those with an artistic conceit AND the cash to pander to it would be LA and San Francisco.

Ed said...

Vince - You are right on the money with your statements. Part of the reason why I've thought this every trip to the Philippines and have never acted upon it.