Mabal Tabih

Mabal Tabih
Mabal Tabih | @nmenmindanao

MABAL TABIH. This handwoven ikat fabric is traditionally worn as a tubular skirt for women and is secured with a brass belt. It is worn during special occasions, including weddings and festivals. Just like the t’nalak of the Tboli and the inabal of the Bagobo, the process involved in weaving the tabih includes harvesting of abaca (Musa textilis), stripping into fibers, dyeing, and weaving. This craft requires a lot of patience since it usually takes a month or two to finish.

Mabal is the Blaan term for the abaca weaving process. Tabih is the term for the finished hand woven cloth and it also refers to the traditional Blaan tubular skirt.

Natural dyes from endemic plant species in the community are the source of colors for different designs of this indigenous textile.

Human-like and crocodile patterns are most dominantly seen in Blaan motifs. It is said that crocodiles act as a charm and ward off evil spirits, which is why they are kept close to the human skin. Blaan men also use the tabih for their vests and coats. These beautiful handwoven fabrics are mostly reserved for Blaans of high social status. As a work of art, its worth might indicate notoriety and social standing.

Are you interested and excited to see a mabal tabih woven by Manlilikha ng Bayan Fu Yabing Masalon Dulo? Come and visit the NationalMuseumPH of Butuan featuring “Panapton sa Lumad: Mga Arte ug Kailhanan (Lumad Textiles: Artistry and Identity)” exhibition opened to the public in October. See you!

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