T’nalak is a traditional fabric made by the Tboli people.
This traditional cloth (image above) is hand-woven and made of Abaca fibers which traditionally have three primary colors, red, black, and the original color of the Abaca leaves.
T’NALAK. A traditional hand-woven cloth indigenous to the Tboli from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines.
T’nalak is a traditional hand-woven cloth indigenous to the Tboli from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines. It is customarily used as a ceremonial blanket, women’s skirts, and men’s tailored suits, and forms part of the bride’s wealth in traditional marriage arrangements. Only a few skilled weavers are gifted with k’na or dreams by abaca spirit Fu Dalu which inspires them to create different designs.
The t’nalak is made from fine fibers derived from the stalk of an #abaca (Musa textilis). A labor-intensive process, its production requires knowledge of a range of skills learned by women from a young age. It is sturdy, and its texture reminds us of snakeskin with various anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and geometric tie-dye patterns. It has three primary colors—red, black, and the natural color of the abaca fibers. The black and red dyes are extracted from the k’nalum (Diospyros sp.) leaves and from the leaves, fruits, and bark shavings of loko (Morinda citrifolia), respectively.
Before the 1960s, t’nalak was bartered for horses. Thus, weavers have a very important role in the Tboli community. The establishment of the Santa Cruz Mission School, Inc. (formerly Notre Dame of Lake Sebu) in 1984 created a market for the t’nalak, providing a steady income to the weavers. This also resulted in the commercialization of the cloth and the introduction of synthetic dyes and new designs.
Are you interested and excited to see a t’nalak work of Manlilikha ng Bayan Lang Dulay? Come and visit the National Museum PH of Butuan featuring “Panapton sa Lumad: Mga Arte ug Kailhanan” exhibition to open to the public in October 2022. See you!
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