Kaiingas - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. As a pragmatic, present-oriented people, Kalingas have a saying, "Nothing happens that does not start from the hearth"; in other words, the household is the center and the focal point of the world. Then comes the kindred, and then the deme. Also, in concert with the other peoples of the North Luzon Highlands, the Kalingas traditionally have had a concept that the universe consists of five areas: the Earth, the Skyworld, the Underworld, the Upstream Area, and the Downstream Area. The Skyworld is geomorphic and is occupied by the creator-god Kabunyan and some of the other high gods. Many of the great adventures of the gods take place in this distant cosmic land. The other areas of the cosmos have their own characteristics. The highest order of deities are Kabunyan and the other high gods, the pinain, and the alan. The second group is composed of the deities of dead ancestors and relatives. The third group consists of mythological creatures and culture heroes who were once humans but whose origins are too ancient to trace. The pinain inhabit the forests, river banks, brooks, swamps, pathways and large trees. The alan are generally malevolent. Christian missionaries have made some slight inroads into the belief system, but for the most part the people retain their traditional religion.

Religious Practitioners. This religion is clearly of the shamanic type, and the shaman is typically a woman. She receives a "call" and serves an apprenticeship. She has her own spirit helpers, paraphernalia, and chants, and most of her shamanic duties relate to the manipulation of spirits to cure illnesses. She sacrifices chickens and sometimes pigs. In community ritual she also serves as an entertainer, dancing and singing; she also admonishes people about proper behavior.

Ceremonies. While some of the ceremonies may take only a few minutes, most last four to six hours and some may go on for several days. They usually focus on the life cycle, agriculture, headhunting, and animal hunting. Most of the life-cycle ceremonies concentrate on the first few years of life. Various food taboos are observed, and their violation is thought to be the primary cause of illness, death, or other misfortunes.

Arts. Musical instruments include bamboo nose flutes and clappers, ancient bronze gongs traded from China, various stringed instruments that are strummed, and bamboo trumpets. The communitywide rituals include an enormous amount of dancing.

Medicine. Modern Western medical practitioners are rare, and the people rely mostly on traditional cures. The most common diseases are measles, bronchopneumonia, tuberculosis, goiter, and disorders of the skin, eyes, and intestines, especially diarrhea. Endemic goiter is related to iodine-deficient soils, which are common in mountainous areas. Cholera and malaria are now rare.

Death and Afterlife. Behavior on earth does not affect existence in the hereafter. A corpse is smoked, and a funeral may last for several days with the sacrifice of various livestock depending on the status and wealth of the household. The body has been buried in different ways, in a jar in the distant past, in a mausoleum in the recent past, and currently in the ground.

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