Kiangan’s Weavers Become Stewards of Culture
The woman, Bugan, was ill. A mysterious malaise had befallen her. She would not cook nor tend to the fields. Worse yet, she would not weave. Her poor husband, Wigan, tries all sorts of medicinal plants, but Bugan does not get better. In the throes of fever, she begs Wigan to go to the village in the east, where she saw weavers working on a different kind of loom, creating vibrant fabrics she had never before seen, and in half the time it takes her. Desperate, Wigan goes to the weavers in the east and asks about their looms and colorful weaving. The weavers tell him to go to Kabunyan—the sky world—and ask the god Punholdayon to teach him the weavers’ secrets. At the god Punholdayon’s house, the man Wigan pleads his case. The god Punholdayon asks his wife—also named Bugan—to teach Wigan the weavers’ secrets. The god Bugan speaks about the ablan—the backstrap loom—a simple loom design that straps the fabric against the weaver’s body to create tension. Punholdayon and Bugan’s other children teach Wigan all aspects of weaving including the binobodan or ikat, a thread dyeing technique to create patterns on the finished weave. The god Punholdayon gives the man Wigan this knowledge, and in exchange asks the man to perform yearly rituals in their names. The man Wigan, returns to Pugao—the earth world—to his tribe, and to his wife with his new knowledge. Upon hearing the weavers’ secrets, the woman Bugan jumps to her feet, miraculously healed. She begins to weave. This is the myth of how the gods taught weaving to the people of Pugao, the people of the earth, the Ifugao.