Living textiles of the T'Boli Tribe

ETHNOTEK tribe member Alexa, recently shared a fascinating article with us about the T'boli people of the Philippines which gives an in depth look into their unbelievably complex process and spiritually imbued T'nalak textiles.  

T’bolis consider it taboo to cut the cloth because they believe that act will make them seriously ill. Tribe members who sell the fabric often attach bells to appease the spirits said to have guided the weavers. 

Superstition surrounds the making of the fabric. T’boli libon (tribeswomen) who make the elaborate weaving and design find it easy to process the cloth after a dream. Designs they see clearly in their dreams have certain meanings and requirements. 

The gathering and processing of materials alone are highly complicated. Fibres selected from fruit-bearing abaca plants (Manila hemp) usually about 18 months old, are stripped by hand from the soft wet pulp of the plant’s stalk. This is then made flaxen and pliable by repeated combing and weeks of air drying. A fabric piece 20 feet long can take up to two months to complete. 

Read the full story here

Thanks again for sharing Alexa!

March 21, 2012 by Jacob Orak
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Sandy Jayne Brown

Sandy Jayne Brown said:

It is so en-heartening to see T’nalak and the T’boli tribe gaining the recognition they have so long deserved. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I provided some assistance to Loudres Labrador and her amazing assistant Cora in their efforts to keep the weaving tradition alive. I am so happy to see the many web-based sites and the glorious images of the fabric and the attempts to describe the process, that are currently available.

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