Weaving for Freedom
Handloom weaving is an art form practiced for centuries by the indigenous people spread all across the 7,641 Philippine islands. Its’ expression of design varies from culture to culture, and their respective traditions. The textiles produced are most commonly associated with dreams and encounters with the spiritual realm, while others are used for rituals and traditional dances of war, healing, harvest, marriage, and even death. Different colors and patterns sometimes also dictate one’s identity and standing in the community.
Through the years of industrialization and globalization, the practice of handloom weaving and its purpose has transitioned more into a means of living, assertion of identity, and cultural pride.
This month, we’re honing in on Binakol, a specific variant of Abel Iloko crafted in Ilocos, a city in the northern part of Luzon. This was most popular during end of the 19th century, around the time of the American colonization.
The geometric designs are almost psychedelic, believed to ward of evil spirits through its dizzying patterns. They are meant to mimic motion and movement, which represents the wind and the waves of the sea.
Binakol, also known as binakul, binakael, binakel, is traditionally used as blankets. These days, however, in an effort to uphold its dying practice, the textiles are now being utilised by artists and designers in different ways such as clothing, accessories, furniture, and home décor.
The movement to support local and ethically-made sustainable goods have pushed for the revival and upliftment of the hand looming art form and their talented makers. The artisans of these beautiful textiles are mostly mothers, who’ve learned their craft through the passing of generations.
WearPeach, as a small business, can right now only support their work through individual purchases per collection. But one day, with enough focus and support, we know we will attain our goal of fostering a community ourselves, and create a bigger and more lasting impact in the preservation and growth of this proudly Filipino craft.
*The weaver in the photo is Catalina Ablog of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. She is the "poster girl" of the Abel Ilokana Exhibit back in 2014 and was on the woman on the cover of Tawid, The Living Treasures of Ilocos Sur that was published in 2010.
Photo credits and weaver information: Reggét Amianan