Monday, October 31, 2011

Rangoli at Deepavali Celebration

On my recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, I saw some shops display colorful decorations at their entrance hall. I was taken around by my Malaysian friend Izan at the KL Sentral and one by one that I saw these colorful designs.

hese designs are called rangoli. It is also called alpana. It is a decorative folk art of India. These designs are traditionally made on floors of the living rooms and courtyard of homes of Indians which signify the sacred welcoming for the Hindu dieties. This is not only for decoration but it is believed to bring good luck. It is a symbol of religious and cultural beliefs. It is an important part of the spiritual process. Its basic color is white and it is dyed with different colors to create attractive and wonderful multi-colored designs.

This is traditionally done by women. I also saw simple decorations in Trichy in North India where it is hand-drawn by chalk at the doorsteps of the business establishments. They can wash it off with water to change and make another design. They make designs out of their traditions, folklore and practices and it varies from one place to another. This is also observed during festivals, marriages, and milestone events.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tinalak: A Tapestry of the T’bolis

T’nalak or tinalak is a hand-woven textile made from the abaca plant. This is a traditional tapestry by the ethnic group called T’bolis in South Cotabato in Mindanao. This cloth does not only serve as a decorative material but it expresses the warm welcome and honour to guests and signifies the status of the owner.

On my visit to Lake Sebu, I really made it appoint to see the weaving of tinalak. I was informed by the locals that I should go and visit Lang Dulay. They put up a center for the tinalak weaving where guests can drop by to see it. By the time I went there I met people from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). They were documenting the step by step process of the weaving. I was so fortunate to have met Lang Dulay who was declared as National Living Treasure or Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardee by NCCA. She is already old and one of her duties and responsibilities as an awardee is to teach her craft. There were several women helping each other weave. Some were her grandchildren.

The weavers only use vegetable dyes and pigments from roots and barks of trees that will give that color to the tinalak. As it maybe observed that there are complex patterns designed in the tinalak and requires good skill in weaving techniques. One meter of tinalak textile takes about months to finish. They also call themselves as dreamweavers because they work without preliminary designs but create their designs from their dreams and from patterns handed down to them.

I had an encounter of another tinalak weaving in Tagum where the T’bolis participated in the Indigenous Peoples’ Month celebration. They showcased some of the tailor-made polos, chalecos and pants made from tinalak cloth. There were also items such as bags and wallets exhibited made from this textile. Its truly a prized cloth for its versatility and it is being featured in the new 1,000 peso bill.