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 Post subject: T'boli Ye Kumu
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:02 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:24 pm
Posts: 30
Location: California
Hello,

Earlier this year, I learned that a very sacred fabric was being woven for me by Yoy Tinggal, one of the most gifted T'boli dreamweavers. The news both shocked and excited me as I'd dreamed of finding a Ye Kumu one day - or even a piece of one - in an antique shop or during a trip to Mindanao. Having one created, by someone as special as Yoy Tinggal is truly a gift. I basically held my breath for the entire length of it's journey from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

This piece measures approximately 5 1/2' x 35'. More photos can be seen here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/128689358@N04/

Yoy Tinggal is very old. I am told this will be her last Ye Kumu as her sight is now nearly gone. I hope you like it.


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 Post subject: Re: T'boli Ye Kumu
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:28 am 
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
Posts: 246
Location: Japan
Craig, Huge cloth, enough to make 3 or 4 Kumu. I don't think the old pieces I have are more than 4 meters long. Unusual to find yellow in a T'boli textile. Are the colors natural or chemical? Sure a lot of work in a piece like this. Her eyesight might be failing but her ikat is still clear. Do you know how long it took her to produce this textile? Thanks for sharing a rare textile.

Best regards


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 Post subject: Re: T'boli Ye Kumu
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:49 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:24 pm
Posts: 30
Location: California
Hi Mac, thanks for taking a look. I hope all is well. Good catch on the yellow highlights. Quite uncommon to be sure. All the dyes are natural, with the yellow coming from a local type of turmeric. Not exactly sure how long it took to create the Ye Kumu, but I would estimate 5 months or so. The abaca was cut fresh from local sources and it started from there. An amazing process to be sure. So from start to finish it was produced using all the ancient and traditional methods.


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 Post subject: Re: T'boli Ye Kumu
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 5:22 am 
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
Posts: 246
Location: Japan
Craig,

Do you know what plants were used to dye the red and black colors? At about 165 cen. in width, I would guess that this textile is composed of three joined panels although the seams are not visible even in the flicker photos. Were they woven on a back strap loom with a continuous warp? At this length it must have been heavy weaving. There is a lot of abaca in this textile and it would have required many trees to produce this much thread. Just the processing of the thread would have taken a month or more I would think. Abaca fibers extracted from the abaca tree are only about 8 ft. long so the ends must all be joined to produce a long, continuous thread. Perhaps the T'boli have specialist producers who just process the thread and weavers may be able to buy this to use in their textiles, thus reducing production time. If we count the time to grow the trees we would have to add almost a year to production time.

Collecting enough plants to dye a textile of this size would have been a lot of work and if natural dyes were used the dyeing process may have required several months. Weaving a cloth of this size may also have taken a couple of months depending on how many hours a day the weaver worked. Many people, I feel, don't really understand the tremendous amount of work and time and the number of skills required to produce a textile of this size and quality. Displaying a textile of this size is in itself a major task!!

Best regards


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 Post subject: Re: T'boli Ye Kumu
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 6:04 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:24 pm
Posts: 30
Location: California
Hi Mac,

Hear are a few answers and further notes.

As you surmised, the piece is actually three strips woven together. The "center" piece has a thin strip of red and white design on each side where it is attached to the "outside" pieces which have one side dyed red and white in a similar pattern.

This was woven on a backstrap loom, yes. Extremely long and quite heavy. In general, the standard size of a full t'nalak roll would be about 10 meters in length.

A variety of abaca plants grow in the area around Lake Sebu. The men will harvest and process this material. It is oftentimes a family affair where members of one family will work together and perform all the tasks necessary to complete the work. Men will work with the "raw" abaca and then come back to complete the burnishing. Women will generally do all the rest.

As you noted, abaca does not grow to be 35ft tall. Once the fibers are prepared (an incredible process in itself), they are tied end to end, one by one using double knots so tiny and finely groomed that you won't notice them. Since Yoy Tinggal is older, it is unlikely that she was making the knots. She did set the pattern and completed the weaving. I know that the women in her family (daughters and granddaughters I believe) helped her throughout the process.

The black dye is made from the leaves of a plant called k'nalum which is a tree that belongs to the ebony family. The color black is called Hitem in Tboli.

The red dye comes from the bark of the roots of the loko tree. The color red is called Hulo in Tboli.

To your point, the production of a length of t'nalak is an amazingly long and strenuous process. It requires a high level of skill and precision at every stage. T'nalak is a work of art like no other.

Thanks again for your comments and insights. Be well.


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