(SPOT.ph) When people say rich and colorful history, it’s usually in a figurative sense and the depth of it is lost to those who associate the past with laborious memorization of dates and details. After all, who puts on a cotton shirt and ponders upon what cotton meant to India or why Mahatma Gandhi spinning his own clothes was such a big deal?
For one, Mercedes Zobel. Perhaps not cotton specifically, but for her, thread and fabric can offer a sharper insight on culture. In a generous move, she donated her pesonal textile collection to the Ayala Museum as a way to invite more people to appreciate the stories woven into them.
Art and the Order of Nature in Indigenous Philippine Textiles, which opened on October 24, explores the sensibilities behind the patterns found in the cloths produced by different ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines, particularly those in the Cordillera region in the north and Western Mindanao, plus the Sulu archipelago in the south.
Preserved behind glass cases are Seputangan from the Yakan, Pis Syabit from the Tausug, and Barangal from the Gaddang. Visitors can geek out on the information written on the walls, explaining the concept behind sacred geometry and how they govern the designs of, for example, the Bagabo’s Binudbod.
A walk through the exhibit is like stepping inside a gigantic textbook-an enormous pop-up guide to a fashionable side of a seemingly forgotten Philippines. While some are experiencing a boost from several organizations, it’s disheartening to find that there are weaving techniques that no longer exist-especially after seeing the mesmerizingly intricate products of the loom.
This frustration is only a drop compared to the inspiration you’ll find at the exhibit.
Illustrations done through the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London show that nothing is ever truly lost, especially if people just allow themselves to be swept away by the, here it is, rich and colorful history behind these artifacts. If you allow it to be, the skill with which the weavers adapt nature’s patterns to cloth can be breathtaking.
If not, there are always novel concepts to keep you entertained. At the far end of the exhibit, garments are pressed between glass, which you can slide to fit illustrations. Quite possibly the biggest set of "paper dolls" we ever played with.
Of course, one could say that these fabrics were meant to be worn, not displayed. So how about a local wrap instead of a skirt once in a while?
Admission fees to the museum apply. Check out Ayala Museum’s official website for complete details.