Sagada Igorot - Sociopolitical Organization

Sagada is divided into two geographical divisions, Dagdag and Demang, which are separated by irrigation systems. These territorial groups are rivals in ceremonies and in games, alternating in the performance of certain rituals for village welfare. They are opponents in the annual "rock fight" of the village boys. Moreover, evidence suggests that they may have formerly buried each other's dead. In addition, each group has its own sacred grove, guardian spirits, and sacred springs. These two divisions are divided further into a series of wards (dapay) : Sagada has twelve wards, five in Dagdag and seven in Demang. Each ward has a ceremonial platform that is attached to both the men's and girls' sleeping houses.

Houses within a ward form a social unit ( obon ) that is not kinship-based. There are no fixed rules for residence in Sagada. Following marriage, parents usually give their house to the new couple and move to a vacant one. There is no evidence to suggest ward patrilocality. The ward is governed by a council of elders who make up an informal council ( amam-a ). These elders settle disputes within their jurisdiction and organize and carry out rituals and ceremonies essential for ward and village welfare.

The range of differences in wealth in the Sagada region is not great. There are basically two categories, the "rich" ( kadangyan ) and the "poor" ( kodo ). The kadangyan are expected to validate their position by elaborate and expensive marriage celebrations. Also of significance is the fact that some kadangyan customs, particular burial practices, and special ceremonial obligations are associated with membership in certain descent groups, regardless of whether the individual is rich or poor. Those with fewer assets often impoverish themselves, going into debt to the wealthy to obtain the necessary animals for sacrifice and feast giving.

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