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'Inabel' at Pinto Art Museum

An inabel with kutsara design

MANILA, Philippines - Handwoven textiles done on traditional wooden looms by Ilocano artisans using weaving techniques passed on through generations are showcased in “Inabel: Ilocano Handwoven Textiles,” which opens on July 29 at Pinto Art Museum, 1 Sierra Madre, Grand Heights, Antipolo City. The show runs until Aug. 22.

Remarkable for their rich coloring and bold designs, hand-woven textiles are an important part of the long, varied cultural heritage of the Ilocos region. History records that inabel were rooted traditions at the time the Spanish colonized the Ilocos region in the 1500s. Neighboring Asian countries were already trading their gold, ceramics, iron and beads with inabel in the natural harbors along the coasts. For centuries inabel has been used as clothing, blankets and even sails for galleons.

Woven patterns on the fabric were based on designs of antique blankets dating from the 1800s to the mid 1900s. Although the reproduced blankets have the traditional designs in them, they are made younger by using colors, scales and some technology of today. The show will likewise exhibit scarves and throws made of 100-percent locally grown silk from the region.

The antique textile collection owned by Al M. Valenciano is part of the Balay ni Atong Collection. This is currently the base collection for the study center for traditional hand woven textiles of the northern Philippines. Part of the antique collection was recently exhibited at the Brooks Art Museum in Memphis, TN.

Today, the flooding of the local market with factory-processed imported textiles and the lure of higher income generating jobs for men and women in foreign countries have reduced the number of weavers to continue the tradition of textile weaving. The Study Center for hand-woven textiles is currently documenting traditional lowland inabel and weaving communities. Part of the documentation process is to faithfully reproduce the various patterns and designs by working with weaving communities that still carry the tradition. It is the hope of the center to achieve sustainability between scholars and weavers by re-introducing quality made inabel not as ordinary textiles but as artworks produced by artisans.

Part of the proceeds of the exhibit, which is presented by Pinto Art Museum, in cooperation with Gameng Foundation, will benefit The Study Center for traditional hand woven textiles of the Northern Philippines.

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