The sheer pineapple fiber cloth, or pinya (Filipino for pineapple) is the finest of all the handwoven fabrics of the Philippines. Like the jusi, it is also the choice fabric for the Barong Tagalog. Similarly, it is also embroidered with intricate designs.
The pinya fiber is derived from wild pineapple plant of Aklan province where most of the pinya fiber in the Philippines is woven. Wild pineapple is preferred since its leaves are noted for their strenght and durability than commercially farmed pinaepples.
In Catholic (Spanish colonial) Philippines, stone altar figures of Mary and Jesus are often displayed in richly embroidered clothing and antique pinya lace or embroidery are often used or incorporated in the clothing of these richly decorated religious statues.
More recently due to changing tastes and commercial demands, a mixture of silk and pinya (the so called ‘pinya-seda’) has appeared in the market.
Long live pinya cloth!
Ikat weave from Mindanao, Philippines
Ikat or ikkat, is a style of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye on either the warp or weft before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. A double ikat is when both the warp and the weft are tie-dyed before weaving.
Ikat which means “to tie” or “to bind” in the Indonesian language has a Philippine variant known for its colors and striking designs. Philippine ikat weaving is mostly practiced in the Cordilleras in northern Philippines by the Ifugao tribes and other ethnic groups in Mindanao which employ ikat techniques in producing their well-known tapestries.
Heirloom and antique ikat tapestries from these tribes are collectors items and often fetch high prices for their outstanding craftsmanship that showcase intricate weave patterns and motifs.
Long live Philippine weaving!
Tinalak is a hand-woven cloth made from the abaca plant. Produced by the ethnic Tiboli tribe in South Cotabato, Mindanao, southern Philippines, the tinalak is a well-revered item in the Tiboli household and is not simply regarded as a decorative material. The weave also signifies the warm welcome and honour regarded to the guests of a Tiboli family, and indicates status of the owner.
The Tiboli tribe only uses vegetable dyes and natural pigments from tree barks and roots that give the characteristic color and glance of a prized tinalak. The tinalak has occupied a central role in the communal life of the Tibolis that they annually celebrate a Tinalak Festival every July coinciding with the provincial anniversary celebrations in South Cotabato.
The women weavers of the tinalak are also forbidden from sexual relations with their husband during the weaving period and are not allowed to weave during menstruation as the Tibolis believe that it affects the weaving process and quality. The weavers work without preliminary sketches or designs but draw inspiration from their dreams and patterns handed down by previous generations.
Complex patterns and the abaca’s sturdy quality requires skilled weaving techniques and good quality tinalak often takes months to finish. There are only a few tinalak weavers and Philippine cultural institutions have declared the weavers from the Tiboli tribe as national creative artists in support of their weaving tradition.
Mabuhay ang tinalak!