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How the First Head Was Taken [Igorot]

ONE day the Moon, who was a woman named Kabigat, sat out in the yard making a large copper pot. The copper was still soft and pliable like clay, and the woman squatted on the ground with the heavy pot against her knees while she patted and shaped it. [1]

               Now while she was working a son of Chal-chal, the Sun, came by and stopped to watch her mould the form. Against the inside of the jar she pressed a stone, while on the outside with a wooden paddle dripping with water she pounded and slapped until she had worked down the bulges and formed a smooth surface.

               The boy was greatly interested in seeing the jar grow larger, more beautiful, and smoother with each stroke, and he stood still for some time. Suddenly the Moon looked up and saw him watching her. Instantly she struck him with her paddle, cutting off his head.

               Now the Sun was not near, but he knew as soon as the Moon had cut off his son's head. And hurrying to the spot, he put the boy's head back on, and he was alive again.

               Then the Sun said to the Moon, "You cut off my son's head, and because you did this ever after on the earth people will cut off each other's heads."



This story, first recorded by Dr. A.E. Jenks, gives the origin of the custom of head-hunting, which plays such an important part in the life of the Igorot. The Igorot claim to have taken heads ever since Lumawig lived on earth and taught them to go to war, and they declare that it makes them brave and manly. The return of a successful war party is the signal for a great celebration.


[1] This is also the common way of making pottery.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: How the First Head Was Taken [Igorot]
Tale Author/Editor: Cole, Mabel Cook
Book Title: Philippine Folk Tales
Book Author/Editor: Cole, Mabel Cook
Publisher: Curtis Brown
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1916
Country of Origin: Philippines
Classification: unclassified

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