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Cordillera Basket Weaving

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Other arts that use weaving techniques are basketry, as well as the making of hats and fans. The Cordilleras are rich in baskets for all purposes, reflecting occupational needs related to rice planting on the mountain terraces, hunting in the forests and fishing in the streams. Their backpack or pasiking for instance, is not only an example of good design but is also structured to support the human frame. Aside from baskets and containers related to hunting and agricultural activities, there are also many kinds of bamboo fish traps with shapes and sizes to suit the different species of fish found in the rivers.

The ubiquitous basket perhaps best captures the unique way of life of the agricultural people of the Luzon Cordillera, the central mountain range in the northern Philippines. This volume is illustrated with color photographs of 50 baskets and related items such as trays, hats, and fish traps, as well as numerous historical and contemporary images of these baskets in daily use. These are stunning pieces of work: an Ifugao hunter's backpack is covered with water-repellent abnut fibers that make it look like a shaggy gray yak, while a tightly woven sepia-colored basket has a lizard decoration that looks real enough to crawl away.

Among our most ancient arts is pottery, which combines design and function. The Manunggul Jar excavated in Palawan is evidence of the high artistic level which the art attained in an ancient times. This large burial jar has a cover which features tow men rowing a boat, suggesting the belief of the early Filipinos in an afterlife that one reaches after crossing a mythical body of water. Around its body is an incised geometric pattern of lines and dots. Extant examples of early Philippine pottery show a wide variety of shapes and decorative techniques, such an incision, stippling, appliqué, openwork and impression by rope and mat. Their designs were usually geometric with stylized nature motifs. Later, pottery became more and more functional, principal examples of which are the palayok for cooking, the banga and the tapayan for storing liquids. In the Ilocos, the making of burnay pottery continues as a lively tradition.

Weaving also originated in precolonial times and is one of our most precious living traditions. The Cordillera groups of the North are well-known for their art of weaving. The blankets and articles of clothing that they produce by means of the backstrap loom not only fulfill a practical function but also play a part in religion and ritual. This tradition spills over into the adjacent Ilocos provinces which take pride in their sturdy abel weave. In Mindanao, the T'boli of Cotabato weave abaca cloth called t'nalak in a difficult tie-dye process. This cloth has a large repertoire of motifs, such as the g'mayaw bird, whose rhythms create the feeling of flapping wings; the frog which signifies fertility; and the dancing man which calls for rain. These motifs attest to the T'boli's deep-seated sense of the harmony of man and nature.

Weaving techniques are also used in the exquisite mats with vivid colors and intricate geometric designs woven by the women of Sulu, particularly from the islands of Laminusa and Siasi. In the Visayas, Samar and Leyte are known for their colorful mats with bird and flower designs. The large mats meant for family use imply strong familial values.

Other arts that use weaving techniques are basketry, as well as the making of hats and fans. The Cordilleras



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