Saturday, October 28, 2017

Philippine hair combs :: Around The World From 80 Countries

In the early 1900s Carson Berger was a teacher in the Philippines.  When he and his wife Sadie returned to the Uited States, they brought back many objects, including these wooden hair combs from the island of Mindanao.
Women, especially those in the Bukidnon area, pull their hair back and fashion a bun, which the comb holds in place.  They then cover the hair back of the comb with an embroidered, fan-shaped cloth.

The combs, called soats, are made of wood, with a carved and inked design.  Beads, and red and yellow yarn ties and tassels are common decorative elements. 

A comb appears in a traditional Bukidnon story recorded by Mabel Cook Cole in her 1916 book, Philippine Folklore Stories.

“One day in the times when the sky was close to the ground a spinster went out to pound rice. Before she began her work, she took off the beads from around her neck and the comb from her hair, and hung them on the sky, which at that time looked like coral rock.

“Then she began working, and each time that she raised her pestle into the air it struck the sky. For some time she pounded the rice, and then she raised the pestle so high that it struck the sky very hard.

“Immediately the sky began to rise, and it went up so far that she lost her ornaments. Never did they come down, for the comb became the moon and the beads are the stars that are scattered about.”
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Monday, October 2, 2017

Thai Musical Instruments :: Around The World From 80 Countries

Musicians in Thailand play two different versions of a stringed instrument known as a saw. In both cases, the musician holds the saw vertically in his lap and places the bow between the two strings. How the bow is tilted affects the sound as the bigger inner string has a lower pitch. There are no frets but where along the neck the musicians presses the strings also determines pitch.

Carved detail on back side

 The Saw U is the larger of the two versions of this instrument. The bottom part is often made of a large coconut shell or gourd, with the end cut off and a piece of goat or calfskin stretched across.  The back is carved in a pattern which is not only decorative but also allows the sound to escape through many holes. The Saw U produces a lower, more mellow tone than other saws.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon