“Dagmay” is the handwoven textile of the Mandaya, made from abaca. Making it involves a mud-dyeing technique. The Mandaya women then weave the fiber into intricate figures and patterns depicting their folklores and beliefs.

Dagmay | Image Credit: @balikbatik

DAGMAY. The traditional handwoven textile of Mandaya, is made of lanot (abaca fibers, Musa textilis) using the abl’lun (backstrap loom).

Weaving the “dagmay” has been passed on from one generation to another. Children, during their free time, help their mothers to segregate and knot the abaca fibers. When their feet can reach the siknan (foot brace) of the loom, the young girls are allowed to continue what their mothers and grandmothers have started to weave. Those who are willing to learn would stay by their mothers’ side to observe and copy what their mothers are doing.

Motifs and designs of the dagmay are mostly anthropomorphic and zoomorphic. The reptile is respected as shown by the regularity with which it appears in their design. Dagmay is not just an ordinary cloth; every design is considered sacred and a gift by the Tagamaling (spirit). Weavers would offer rituals to the Magbabaya (deity) to give them clear visions of the designs and concentration when laying the patterns. They would usually chew on betel nuts and burn ashes near them as part of their ritual.

At present, the Mandaya weavers in Davao Oriental would mix commercial cotton with abaca to save time in preparing the materials and in weaving. At times, they also mix the commercial and natural dyes to make the colors look brighter and prevent the colors from fading away/fast.

Come and visit the National Museum of Butuan featuring “Panapton sa Lumad: Mga Arte ug Kailhanan (Lumad Textiles: Artistry and Identity)” exhibition to open to the public in October 2022. See you!

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