Inaul: The Southern Beauty

As the writer’s pen engraves the words that flow from the crevice of her mind to depict a legacy through written words, the hands of the weaver gently interlaces the threads with her heart to continue a heritage that bespeaks of a living culture which fairly defines the Muslim Filipinos known as the Bangsamoro people.

The Bangsamoro people who are amalgamated by Islam predominantly live in Mindanao wherein they already have an impeccable culture even before the arrival of the conquistadores. And weaving is one vital expression of culture that enriched the existence of these Muslim Filipinos in the southern islands of the Philippines.

Weaving is a method of creating fabric by interlacing sets of threads to make a patterned piece of cloth. Though proximal in affinity each of the Bangsamoro group have their own distinct and salient creation of weaving.

The people of the lake for one prides the Maranao’s weaving ingenuity called Landap while, the people of the current take pride with the product of Tausug’s weaving creativity named as Pis syabit. And the people of the plain on the other hand are proud of Maguindanaon’s weaving artistry referred to as Inaul.

Inaul is basically designed as a malong or a tubular piece of cloth. But the Inaul unlike malongs which are machine made are hand- woven from a back strap loom with the two sides sewn together to form a malong per se which nonetheless makes it more expensive than ordinary malongs. For Inaul can cost from Php 1,000 to 5,000 pesos and up per piece depending upon its details.

Although it is used as a malong during occasions such as weddings, kanduli or thanksgiving celebrations and enthronements, the Inaul can also be used as a gown, barong, skirt, dress and bags. It can even be used as accents for shoes and throw pillows.

Indeed, the use of this iridescent masterpiece has transcended from simple to complex because of the Maguindanaons love of the craft which is still the main source of income for some.

My grandmother used to weave along with my mother and many of our female relatives too. But I cannot remember when it all started. What I know is that weaving is already a part of my life and I will be weaving Inaul so long as there are still people who make use of it,’ Tahani Idalmao said, a local weaver from Sitio Luya, Bulalo, Sultan Kudarat in the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan.

But according to Sayyeda Aisha Pangilamen Nur there are only a few Inaul weavers left since it is not that easy to sell the product in these times where the interests of many are leading towards foreign products. It is sad to imagine that the myriad colours of Inaul are slowly fading from the hands of the weavers. For many are taking a backseat away from their looms due to our own unawareness that there in the southern part of what we call our ‘Bayang Sinilangan’ lies a beauty awaiting to be alive once again. And that is the weaving of Inaul.

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