The Philippines has a rich tapestry of weaving traditions that span centuries and pre-date the arrival of Spanish colonizers. For the indigenous cultural communities of the Philippine archipelago, weaving is not just a means of livelihood or a pastime. Weaving is an expression of the community's unique culture and identity.
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The Binakol fabric is woven by Abra weavers. The dizzying patterns form optical illusions that are meant to confuse and ward off evil spirits. Traditionally used as ceremonial blankets or as sails on boats, the patterns such as the kusikus (whirlwind), marurup (milky way) and the ti pusa (cat’s paw print) are still among the common designs woven today for contemporary use.
The Ramit is handwoven cloth traditionally used by Mangyan women as skirts, belts, headbands and blankets. It is primarily characterized by its distinct stripe patterns with cultural Mangyan designs.
Piña is considered the queen of Philippine fabrics because of its expensive and luxurious nature. Recognized as “elite” wear, piña is usually reserved for special and prestigious occasions such as weddings and formal events. Its delicate appearance belies its strength and durability.
For the Higaonon, weaving is meant to be a happy activity, and the Hinabol weaver expresses her feelings on her loom in the same way that a painter would on canvass. This “woven happiness” is readily seen in the unique patterns and vibrant colors of the Hinabol.
Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
The T’boli women of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, weave beautiful T’nalak that are often described as “woven dreams.” These are gifts of Fu Dalu, spirit of Abaca from where the threads of the T’nalak come from. Using a backstrap body tension loom, the weaver literally uses her entire body to weave the tapestry inch by inch. It takes 3-4 weeks to weave a full roll of T’nalak, sometimes more depending on the complexity and intricacy of the design.
For the Maguindanao, weaving is a spiritual exercise and one of the highest forms of artistic expression. The inaul (pronounced “inol”) is the Maguindanao traditional fabric that depicts the community’s rich Muslim culture and heritage with its striking colors, intricate brocade patterns, and use of metallic threads.