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Arts and Crafts of Bagobo and

Manobo

The Bagóbo are a proud people with proto Malayan features and with a strong
social structure enabled them, as a group, to integrate with the main body
politic while retaining much of their indigenous customs, beliefs, and values.
That said, most of the Bagóbo have suffered dislocation due to the loss of
their ancestral lands and the effects of modern day insurgency. While many are
in economically depressed circumstances, a considerable number have attained a
substantial degree of self-sufficiency. For instance, they are renowned for
their metal-craft skills, particularly in the production of brass articles by
means of the ancient lost-wax process; weaponry best exemplify Bagóbo ornate
traditions of metal-crafting. While still others of the Bagóbo specialize
weaving abacca cloths of earth-toned hues, as well as, basket-making trimmed
with beads, fibers and horse hair.
Manobo simply means “people” or “person”; alternate names include Manuvu and
Minuvu. The term may have originated from “Mansuba,” a combination of man
(people) and suba (river). Manobos are concentrated in Agusan, Bukidnon,
Cotabato, Davao, Misamis Oriental, and Surigao Del Sur.
The Manobo usually build their villages near small bodies of water or forest
clearings, although they also opt for hillsides, rivers, valleys, and
plateaus. The communities are small, consisting of only 4-12 houses. They
practice slash-and-burn agriculture.
The Ubo are a Manobo sub-tribe who inhabit the more isolated mountains of
Southwest Cotabato in the area known as Datal Tabayong, as well as, more
southerly Davao del Sur.
Known for their intricate casting, the Ubo fashion fine weaponry and jewelry
that they believe possess souls, making it harder for the maker to part with
them. Agriculturally, they practice swidden, a slash-and-burn farming, oft
planting and harvesting rice, root crops, and vegetables for consumption.
Before the Spanish colonial period, the Manobo wore bark cloth to cover their
genitalia. Today they wear Western clothes: the skirt and blouse or dress for
the women, trousers and sports shirt for men. The heavily embroidered
traditional Manobo costume is now worn only on special occasions.

Traditional fabric for clothes was abaca or hemp, weaved by the ikat process,
but is now cotto cloth obatained through trade. Dyes were acquired from plants
and trees: the tagum plant and the bark of the lamud treee produced lack, the
turmeric root, yellow, and the keleluza plant, red. Ginuwatan are inwoven
representational designs such as flowers. If cotton trade cloth is bought, big
floral designs are preferred. Typical colors are red, black, yellow, green,
blue and white.

Manobo ancestors had blankets of abaca fiber which were linetungan if these
had multicolored design, and bayas if plain white.

Traditional costume most extensively described by researchers are those of the


Agusanon Manobo, the Bukidnon/Higaonon, and the western Bukidnon. According
the Manuel (1973), this costume was introduced only in the early part of this
century or a little earlier, for the Manuvu did not know weaving. It was
during the 19th century that contact with other groups acquainted the Manuvu
with abaca cloth.

The color of the body of the jacket with it's matching skirt or trousers
identifies the tribal groups to which the wearer belongs. The Agusanon Manobo
usually wear red, with contrasting colors for the sleeves and embroidery
thread. The Umayamnon Manobo wear royal blue, and the Matigsalug, navy blue,
with red and white as the favorite embroidery or patch work colors.
Arts and Crafts of Bagobo and
Manobo

traditional clothes were hand-woven from colourfully


dyed abaca fibre. Limen’s mother, Ina Esot Ayap, is one
of the elderly women from Tudaya who have continued to
practice the traditional art of weaving. This art,
however, has not reached the younger Bagobo-Tagabawa
generations. It is a time-consuming and labour-intensive
craft that is hard to combine with more pressing
livelihood needs of these poor farmer communities. The
influence of mainstream lowland culture has also
strongly diminished the outward expressions of cultural
identity.