Language: Igorot
Source: Albert Ernest Jenks, 1905


Kay-yan is an Igorot javelin with two very large barbs. According to Jenks, writing in 1905, they are relatively rare.

"Kay-yan′ is a gracefully formed blade not used in hunting, and employed less in war than is si-na-la-wi′-tan. Though the Igorot has almost nothing in his culture for purely aesthetic purposes, yet he ascribes no purpose for the kay-yan′—he says it looks pretty; but I have seen it carried to war by war parties." 1

Most of these heads were made by the Igorot of Baliwang, where around 1905 four smithies were still active. The smiths used simple tools, like stone hammers.2


Other javelins in use by the Igorot

Jenks describes four types of spearhead being made at Baliwang, apart from the kay-yan, they were:


Falfeg: a barbed war javelin with a slender neck.

"The one most common is called “fal-fĕg′.” It is a simple, single-barbed blade, and ranges from 2 inches to 6 inches in length. This style of blade is the most used in warfare, and the smaller, lighter blades are considered better for this purpose than the heavier ones." 3


Fang-kao: a barbless javelin with a wide head.

"The fang′-kao, or barbless lance blade, is next common in use. It is not a war blade, but is used almost entirely in killing carabaos and hogs. There is one notable exception to this statement—Ambawan has almost Page 128no other class of spear. These blades range from 4 to 12 or 14 inches in length." 4


Sinalawitan: a javelin with a long row of barbs.

"The other two blades, si-na-la-wi′-tan and kay-yan′, are relatively rare. The former is quite similar to the fal-fĕg′, except that instead of the single pair of barbs there are other barbs—say, from one to ten pairs. This spear is not considered at all serviceable as a hunting spear, and is not used in war as much as is the fal-fĕg′. It is prized highly as an anito scarer. When a man passes alone in the mountains anito are very prone to walk with him; however, if the traveler carries a si-na-la-wi′-tan, anito will not molest him, since they are afraid when they see the formidable array of barbs." 5

Anito are spirits that were believed to dwell among the people of Luzon.


Types of igorot javelin

Let to right: falfeg, kay-yan, sinalawitan, fang-kao.
Metropolitan Museum, New York.



Igorot warrior

An Igorot warrior with his shield and fang-kao.
Unknown date and photographer.


Bontoc Igorot with their javelins at Talubin

Bontoc Igorot at Talubin, Luzon.

"These men were expecting to be attacked at the time this photograph was taken." 6


1. Albert Ernest Jenks; The Bontoc Igorot. Manila: Bureau of Public Printing, 1905. Digitized at
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Photo and text were published in Dean Conant Worcester; The Philippines Past and Present. Volume 2. New York,
The Macmillan Company, 1914. Available online.

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