Ifugao Spoon

Type of object
Technique and material

wood, animal fat

22.5 x 5.8 cm

Crafted by Philippine artisans, this spoon from the 1930s is a beautiful example of how aesthetics and spirituality can be united in a utilitarian object.

The hardwood spoon shown here was made by the Ifugao, an ethnic group living on the island of Luzon. Its handle is elaborately carved into a figure that usually represents a local deity or a prominent person in the community, such as an ancestor or woman with child. The dark wood has been polished with duck or pork fat to make the surface shiny.

These wooden spoons were once everyday utensils used to eat soup or rice, the main staple of this region, which is known for its rice terraces. Gradually the spoons were replaced by mass-produced metal spoons. Today the wooden spoons are produced primarily for tourists.