Creating containers for safe-keeping, transporting, displaying hand skills, signaling status and wealth, is what a human won’t. North to the south in the Philippines, there are boxes, baskets, jars, pouches, austerely plain or elaborately garnished, in all sizes, in metal, terra cotta, fiber, and wood.
A Bontoc koppit is standardly basketry, with an internal part that forms the bottom and a fitted lid that slides to cover the entire inner compartment. (Some basketry koppit are layered, with two or three perfectly contrived or “nested”, if you like, compartments.). It was used by men for travel and trips to the fields; the koppit contained food such as rice or preserved meat (say, etag), tobacco, and personal items.
Some rare koppit from the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century have been made of a combination of wood and basketry or entirely of hewn wood, flat bottomed or footed. Across the lid top of this footed koppit, extending from end to end is the “body” of either a Bontoc sun skink (Eutropis bontocensis) or an Igorot Cordillera mountain skink (Parvoscincus igorotum); each end then shows the articulation of front appendages, and finally, skink heads. These two skinks are found only in forested areas and natural habitats in the Cordilleras.
Museo ng Kaalamáng Katutubò
Ex: Ramón N. Villegas Collection
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