The Ibaloi is an inborn artist. He is an expert chiseler of wood and an skilled metal craftsman. The Ibalois have been known early as woodcarvers. They used to carve wood containers for their food. Among their products are: the shuyo or abuyo (wooden bowl), the bakalong or sakduag (wooden laddle), the irus (wooden spoon), the pakkong, used in feeding bigger pigs, and the batbatan (tray) for the piglets, the dusungan and the al-o for pounding rice, and bakong, a wooden cloth box. The dungon is a wooden coffin made by chopping the whole tree trunk and shaping it accordingly.
As to metalcraft, the products of the Ibalois included the wasay (axe), which has a narrow blade; the itak (bolo), the taed (knife); the gabjon (hoe); the pala (shovel); and the sinapsap (a kind of sickle without teeth). The Ibalois used to wear gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets, armlets, and leglets. But one enterprising American who went to Baguio during the early days of the Baguio township bought the articrafts and had them melted into gold nuggets, an act that was deplored and condemned by the wife of an American anthropologist researching in Baguio and other parts of the Mountain provinces.
Reflecting Ibaloi art are the various basket weave designs. Among these are the kulbong, a design for big baskets made of hard materials and used to carry vegetables and fruits; the seded weave consisting of finer bamboo splits manufactured into a container for cooked camote or aba (gabi); the ginalut weave where the edges are tied to a piece of rattan; and the digao weave of the winnowing basket.
Blankets used by the Ibalois were not woven by them, but their designs followed specifications dictated by them. The koabao blanket has black and white linings or stripes and is made of cotton. It is used by the rich, those who had butchered five pigs. It is usually worn for the sarung dance of the women. The banshala or kolabao has black stripes on both edges of the blanket and in the center; it is used by the common people. The shindi has black, red, and white stripes and is used primarily for the tayao, the male dance. The aladding is the most expensive blanket and is worn only by the rich people. It has a peculiar smell similar to that of snake.
There are two forms of rice culture among the modern Ibalois: the bangkag and the talon. The bangkag is applied only in warmer places like Kabayan, and its cultivation comes ahead of the talon. Usually the bangkag starts in June. The talon is used in wet cultivation, which is practiced in the cold places, as in La Trinidad. The varieties of rice usually planted on the talon are the kintuman (red rice), the be-it, which comes from the lowlands, the bayag, which is red and white, and the diket, which is gluttinous or sticky. For tapey-making, the best rice variety are the kintuman and the diket. Rice culture among the Ibalois is very recent, compared to that of their neighbors in Ifugao. Their rice terraces are very young compared to the supperannuated rice terraces of the Ifugaos.
The courtship among the Ibalois involves a third party, the parents or relatives. The kiwadwan refers to the process whereby the parents of a man ask him to indicate the woman he likes to marry and the parents take care of courting the woman for him. The parental agreement whereby parents of both the girl and the boy agree that their children will be married to each other is called kaising. Oftentimes, the kiwadwan and kaising are effective means of solving feuds between families.
The Ibalois believe in a supreme being they call Kabunian. He is believed to be the master of the universe. Bugan is the wife of Kabunian. The mambunung, or shaman, prays to these gods during rituals.
Aside from these gods are the kaamedan, or spirits of ancestors. The Ibalois call upon these spirits to watch over them in their daily undertakings and to give the living success and prosperity. The kaamedan are believed to have gone heavenward and are with Kabunian.
The Ibalois also believe in spirits of early nature. These are called an-anitos (evil spirits). They live in the mountains, big trees, big rocks, creeks and rivers, and ravines, in fact, almost everywhere. Those who live in rivers are called nayaki or ampasit; the others are called timmengao. They are believed to cause harm to the living.
The dead are buried. If a man dies, they let him face the west towards the direction of Ilocos. The Ibalois believe that the soul of the dead man will journey to the Ilocos, which they consider to be a paradise. The natives go to the Ilocos from where they obtain their provisions of salt, cattle, carabaos, sheep, pigs and dogs, clothing materials, blankets, and so forth. So the spirit of the dead man, by makign him face the west, will travel to the Ilocos to have a better life.
On the other hand, a dead woman is made to face the east because the Ibalois believe that her soul will travel to the uma (cleared forest or mountain side) where they plant.