Also known as: Bontoc Igorot

The Bontok (also known as Bontoc Igorots) live in and around the town of Bontoc in the Cordillera of Luzon, and speak several closely related languages. Historically they lived in large villages or towns (often called 'pueblos') and cultivated rice using a sophisticated system of terraces.

Show Map of Location

Traditional Culture(1903)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-215
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-215
Ancestral spirits Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-198
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-215
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 201-204

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 198

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-215
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 215
Myth of humanity’s creation Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-226
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-226
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 200-204

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 216

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 48-79, 196-214
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 81-166, 196-215
Kinship tapu Absent (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 48-79, 196-214


Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 175
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 80
Largest religious community Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 196-215
Keesing (1949)
Political and religious differentiation No overlap (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 167-171, 196-215


Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 187-189
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 187-189
Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 187
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 187-189
Genital cutting Present in culture, but not a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 63-64
Social Environment +
Population 30000 (Source)
Census Office of the Philippine Islands (1921), pp. 900
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 48-50
Importance of Patrilateral descent High (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 84, 85
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 84
Polygamy Monogamy preferred, but exceptional cases of polygyny (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 59


(No) external warfare Common, at least every five years (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 35-39, 172-184
Conflict within community High (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 167-171
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 172-183
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 35-6, 154, 157-158
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. Plate II
Distance to nearest continent 806.2 (Source)
Bodner & Gereau (1988), pp. 308
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Jenks (1905), pp. 35-39
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 35
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 107-111, 140
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 84-85
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 81, 143
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 81-83
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 88-89

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 85-86, 141
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 85-86
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 87, 141-142

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Major (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 136-137, 154-156
Metalworking Present (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 116-117, 125-128
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Bodner & Gereau (1988), pp. 308

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Yumul et al. (2009), pp. 732-733
Island Size (km²) 104688.0 (Source)
'Luzon' (2019)
Maximum elevation (meters) 2930.0 (Source)
'Luzon' (2019)


Latitude 17.1 (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. Plate III
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 121.1 (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. Plate III
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1903-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +


Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
McKay (2006), pp. 296
Keesing (1949), pp. 579
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
McKay (2006), pp. 296
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Howell (2009), pp. 253-254
McKay (2006), pp. 296

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Howell (2009)
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Carling (2004), pp. 186-187
Immigration Absent (Source)
Carling (2004), pp. 184
Google Maps (2014)
Language shift Medium (Source)
Eberhard (2020)
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Reid (2005), pp. 6-

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Low (Source)
Prill-Brett (2004), pp. 6
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Prill-Brett (2004), pp. 6

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Partly voluntary (Source)
Prill-Brett (2004), pp. 5
Carling (2004), pp. 186-187
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Jenks (1905), pp. 35-39
Prill-Brett (2004), pp. 5-6
Carling (2004), pp. 186-187
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Institutional religious syncretism Low (Source)
Howell (2009), pp. 255, 265
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Howell (2009), pp. 254
External Links
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from

Bodner, C. C. & Gereau, R. E. (1988). A Contribution to Bontoc Ethnobotany. Economic Botany, 42 (3), 307-369. Retrieved from

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Carling, J. (2004). The Cordillera Peoples and the Movement for Regional Autonomy. In V. Tauli-Corpuz, & J. Carino (Eds.), Reclaiming Balance: Indigenous Peoples, Conflict Resolution and Sustainable Development (pp 183-195). Baguio City, Philippines: Tebtebba Foundation.

Census Office of the Philippine Islands (1921). Census of the Philippine Islands taken under the direction of the Philippine Legislature in the year 1918 (Vol. II: Population and Mortality). Manila, Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014).

Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (eds.). (2020). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (23rd ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. Retrieved from

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from

Howell, B. M. (2009). Moving Mountains: Protestant Christianity and the Spiritual Landscape of Northern Luzon. Anthropological Forum, 19 (3), 253-269. DOI: 10.1080/00664670903278395

Jenks, A. E. (1905). The Bontoc Igorot. Manila: Bureau of Public Printing. Retrieved from

Keesing, F. M. (1949). Some Notes on Bontok Social Organization, Northern Philippines. American Anthropologist, 51 (4), 578-601. Retrieved from

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156,

Lebar, F. (Ed.). (1975). Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Volume 2: Philippines and Formosa. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press.

Luzon (2019). Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved

McKay, D. (2006). Rethinking Indigenous Place: Igorot Identity and Locality in the Philippines. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 17 (3), 291-306. DOI: 10.1111/j.1835-9310.2006.tb00065.x

Prill-Brett, J. (2004). Gender Relations and Gender Issues on Resource Management in the Central Cordillera, Northern Philippines. Review of Women's Studies, 14 (1), 1-29. Retrieved from

Reid, L. (2005). A Cross-Generational View of Contact-Related Phenomena in a Philippine Language: Phonology. In Quakenbush, J.S. & Dayag, D.T. (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and Language Education in the Philippines and Beyond: Festschrift in Honor of Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines and the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Reid, L. A. (1972). Wards and Working Groups in Guinaang, Bontok, Luzon. Anthropos, 67 (3-4), 530-563. Retrieved from

Yumul, G., Dimalanta, C., Queaño, K., & Marquez, E. (2009). Philippines, geology. In R. Gillespie & D. Clague (eds.), Encyclopedia of Islands (pp. 732-738). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.