Living in the foothills of the Kitanglad Mountain Ranges in Bukidnon in the Philippines, the Talaandig group has an estimated population of 100,000 and is one of the few communities who have successfully preserved their traditional culture amidst the influx of modernity and change.

Instead of using synthetic paint, Talaandig artists use earth pigments which are readily available in their ancestral domain. These soil paintings are reproduced as postcards and are readily available in sets of 10.

“Untitled”. Soil on canvass by Soliman Poonon.
“Mangangapog”. Soil on canvass by Soliman Poonon.

To the Talaandig people, men and women are equally important to the life of the community, and leadership must be balanced between the two. Betel leaf chewing is part of their culture. In this painting, the artist imagines what goes on in the spirit world during the ritual for the preparation of betel leaves.

“The Weaver”. Soil on canvass by Raul Bendit.

The spider serves as the inspiration for their weaving traditions. For the Talaandig people, the mountains and forests are the wellspring of their culture and provide for all their daily needs. They believe that there are spirits everywhere in nature. Every hunter must first ask for permission from the spirits to ensure success of the hunt.

“The Belief of the Hunter”. Soil on canvass by Intonda Kinuyog.
“The Flutist of Nature”. Soil on canvass by Nympha Bendit.
“Balaghusay”. Soil on canvass by Salima Saway-Agra-an.

The balaghusay (arbitrator) is an important figure in the Talaandig community. The rich imagery of this painting depicts the qualities every balaghusay must possess: the ability to bend without breaking, a cool mind, a pure heart, and a balanced judgment that derives its weight from Talaandig culture.

“The Defender”. Soil on canvass by Salima Saway-Agra-an.

This painting was inspired by Datu Kinulintang who taught the Talaandig people to defend their culture and resist colonization. This painting is remarkable in that it bears a striking resemblance to Datu Kinulintang even though this was painted purely from the artist’s imagination.

“The Unseen World”. Soil on canvass by Marcelino Necosia, Jr.

Not many people realize that there are spirits who live in nature, in a paradise that we do not see. This painting reflects the Talaandig people’s profound respect for the spirits who live in that unseen world.

Visit the Talaandig group’s Facebook page to get updates on exhibit schedules.

  • Raizel Albano

    Currently working as a Regional Reporter for GoUNESCO and Chief Traveler for Anthroonfoot.

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