Cordillera Ritual Cloths and Ilocano Weavers
In the last six months as I scanned pages of materials on Cordillera history and culture, I came across what this writer said about the Cordillera textiles: “On the Cordillera, no social or religious event is complete without textiles being bestowed, exchanged,buried or sacrificed”.
The photo shows “mambunong” or native priestess Amanda (Manda) Cados, Baguio City@ 2011. ( Photo from the Abek Home and Culture collection).
In 2010, I was part of a group that went around the Ilocos region documenting crafts and other dying industries of the various villages. It was certainly amazing to come across people in the upland interiors of Ilocos Sur who claim ancestry from the neighboring highlands of the Cordilleras. They spoke Kankanaey, danced the traditional dances, and at this one meeting we had at the “munisipyo”, they even had a distinctly upland woven table cloth all laid out during lunch. There was also one particular weaver who had passed on in 2009 but people said that she and her elders had woven the cloths of the Kankanaey and the Bontoc for the longest time. Her name was Salvacion Ramos and she was 86 when she died.Trade relations between the upland people and the lowland folks was ongoing even before borders were delineated formally. Textiles and salt were important items the Igorots came to buy via the Candon route in Ilocos Sur. More on this in future posts.
In 2013, I photographed an environmental project about Benguet. I went to Bakun and I was lucky to arrive a day before their fiesta. The farmers came with their fresh produce of fruits and vegetables. I also witnessed traditional dancing mostly by the male folk. This Kankanaey old man in the photo was taken during that fiesta. The textile he has on was also used in the ritual that was performed by their local native priest. The ritual blanket on his shoulder is important in many parts of Benguet where tradition is still followed.In this special occasion, the ancestors were called to be part of the ceremonies.***