Pigs and ritual-hunting among the highland Tau-Buhid in Mounts Iglit-Baco natural park, Philippines

Christian A. ROSALES

en Anthropozoologica 56 (9) - Pages 137-151

Published on 25 June 2021

This article is a part of the thematic issue Suidae in ritual contexts in contemporary times

Ethnographic accounts demonstrate that hunting rituals for many Indigenous Peoples are meant to ensure the abundance and availability of game animals. This article shows that, among the Tau-Buhid, hunting itself is a ritual where human-spirit relationships are fundamental to their lifeworld. “Ritual-hunting” puts the need for meat secondary to humans’ relationship with the spirit world. Ritual-hunting cannot be realized without sacrificing pigs. Domesticated pigs (Sus domesticus Erxleben, 1777) in particular are held as “spirit-less” and hence the only kind of pigs that can mediate between the Tau-Buhid and the spirits. Wild pigs (Sus scrofa Linnaeus, 1758), on the other hand, are forbidden to be killed for this purpose because they are held as an “animal-forming spirit”, protected by magic sanctions. Thus, while pig domestication seems practical to address the need for pigs, it is legally prohibited in the highlands. This constraint puts pressure on the Tau-Buhid to procure pigs from the lowlands. As a result, the Tau-Buhid are forced to produce goods beyond what their local economic system could provide to procure pigs from the lowland. Through a combined multispecies ethnography and political ontology, this article shows that the Tau-Buhid’s relationship with domesticated pigs is reflective of a political struggle to maintain their sociality while negotiating relationship with the lowlands.


Ritual, domestication, exchange.

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