Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, consists of a large landmass and series of smaller islands that cascade across the Sulu Sea towards Malaysia. Its east coast and interior is home to a number of different indigenous people whose textile traditions share technical and material features, including the use of abaca fibre, ikat dying methods and the use of backstrap looms. Although technically similar, the textiles display patterns and motifs designed to meet social or spiritual functions specific to each community. In some cases motifs reflect a deep respect for local flora and fauna and are believed to act as conduits to the divine. Other textiles are designed as ceremonial gifts on occasions such as marriage, or are hung to designate spaces of spiritual importance.
Much of the west coast and archipelagic parts of Mindanao are home to Muslim communities who have strong links with early seafaring Sultanates that resisted Spanish imperialism. They share cultural and religious practises with neighbours in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia and are renowned for their architectural woodcarvings.
Over the centuries, international and local trade introduced new materials and modes of production. This led Mindanao’s artisans to abandon some materials and adopt others to create innovative textiles and crafts for exchange between the region’s diverse communities.
The Maranao are one of the Muslim communities who live in Mindanao. Both men and women wear tubular garments called 'malong'. This type of garment is used in a number of different ways, from skirt to gown to baby carrier, and even sleeping blanket.
'Langkit' are the bands of woven tapestry used to decorate and join three plain-woven coloured pieces of silk that make up the 'malong'. The two narrow' langkit' that are used to join the separate pieces of silk horizontally across the malong are called tobrian. A single wider langkit called the lakban runs vertically down the centre of the malong to make the tubular form of the skirt. This example is of the narrower variety and would be used to make a horizontal join across the 'malong'. The geometric designs of the' langkit' are similar to the curvilinear designs of Maranao woodcarving and, like the woodcarvings, are generally known as 'okir'. Designs are often more specifically named with reference to medicinal plants and have male-female variants.
silk; slit tapestry
7.0 x 159.0 cm
Gift of Dr John Yu and Dr George Soutter 2005
Not on display