National Museum Ethnographic Collection


The Anthropology Division started collecting ethnographic artifacts since the creation of the National Museum of the Philippines. Anthropologists Dr. Henry Otley Beyer began collecting cultural materials from the different peoples of the Philippines ranging from baskets, weapons, textiles, and wooden objects to various religious, economic and agricultural tools and implements, musical instruments and personal ornaments and adornments. During the World War II, these artifacts were distributed to friends and colleagues for safekeeping. Several years after the war, Dr. Beyer began to retrieve all these materials and found most to be intact and in good condition except for some that were badly damaged.

Through the years, the ethnographic collection of the Anthropology Division continues to be augmented through field collection, purchase and donation. Presently, there are about ten thousand specimens on display in galleries and in storage.

The foremost rationale behind the collection of these ethnographic artifacts is to preserve our cultural heritage and to create a national reference of ethnographic artifacts of the various ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines.

Systematically arranged according to groups and classified in terms of functions, the ethnographic collection is kept in storage where the temperature of the room is maintained through a 24-hour air-conditioning system. This helps preserve the physical condition of the specimens, and prolongs the lifespan of the specimens. For instance, textile specimens are stored inside cabinets with series of drawers. Wooden objects, baskets, ceramic and metal crafts are wrapped in acid-free paper, and stored in steel cabinets with series of panels.

Selected ethnographic items are now on display in the Kinahinatnan gallery at the Museum of the Filipino People. The gallery features various ethnolinguistic groups presented in thematic concepts. It elaborates the cultural distinctiveness of the Filipino in four ecological zones: the coastals (Cebuano and Sama), the highlands (Ifugao), the lake areas (Maranao), and the lowlands (Tagalog).

The Anthropology Division has a number of significant artifacts among its huge ethnographic collection. These artifacts - featured in this handbook - are considered cultural treasures among the people of the Philippines. The artifacts reflect the most unique aspects of the Philippine culture and highlight the ingenuity of the Filipino.

This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
National Museum of the Philippines
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