Team from University of the Philippines visits DWN!

Team from University of the Philippines visits DWN!
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A team of six researchers from the University of the Philippines was with us at Digital Weaving Norway to learn about the Digitization of Textiles on the TC2 loom! The visit was a part of the ongoing CordiTex project that aims at exploring different approaches in the social and natural sciences to analyze traditional textiles and examine how they are transformed in the contemporary period. 

The delegation consisted of faculty members from the two campuses of the University of the Philippines (Baguio and Diliman) led by Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores (Project Leader of CordiTex), Dr. Alipio Garcia, Dr. Santos Jose O. Dacanay III, Prof. Maria Josephine Lumawig, Prof. Maria Monica Rayala and Prof. Kristyn Caragay.

As a part of the training workshop conducted by Vibeke Vestby from Digital Weaving Norway, we covered much ground! Starting off by preparing the loom to weave, going through a range of different weave structures/techniques and finally transforming designs into a woven fabrics.

One of the most valuable experiences for us was to get a glimpse of the locally-woven designs from the Philippines AND to get our hands on some indigenous fibers – pure Philippine cotton, pineapple, banana and silk fibers (Thanks Dr. Analyn for bringing them to us!). Together with Dr. Analyn’s team, we analysed and recreated several designs that had been documented during the field work conducted as a part of the CordiTex project back in the Philippines. CordiTex documents and facilitates the reconstruction of traditional weaving textiles, methods and techniques; it also provides accurate anthropological and technical information about the textiles from the Cordillera region.

Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of the Philippines Baguio(UPB), Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores, shared with us some insights about the textile history in the Philippines, about CordiTex and the role that digitization can play in reviving traditional weaving in the country:

  1. Could you tell us give us a background about the textile traditions in the Philippines?

This is rather a long story. I can focus on the Northern Philippines where CordiTex is based. There are two types of weaving in the northern part: one that uses a footloom (pedal loom) and the other backstrap loom, which is the older and traditional way of weaving up north.

Traditionally, backstrap loom weavers use pure cotton and naturally dyed, but this has depleted with the introduction of ready to wear clothes, commercially dyed threads, polyester and more importantly the values that changed with the decline of weaving in the region brought by religion, tourism, and education.  We have master weavers who still work on the backstrap looms, and younger weavers learning to weave, and some who mass-produce textiles using the footloom.

2. Are there any weaving techniques that are characteristic to the region? Also, could you name a few fibers that are typically used by the local weavers?

There are many techniques, but most weaves use the supplementary weft to produce the intricate designs. A distinct tradition is the binobodon (“to tie”) which is an ikat method which is recently revived in Ifugao, this is a region in northern Philippines. Traditionally, old weavers had knowledge of  bark made for clothing before they used pure cotton harvested near their homes for weaving. Aside from cotton, weavers use silk, abaca, and pineapple fibers. The latter is renown in Visayas region.

3. You and your team were in Norway to learn Digitization of Textiles as a part of the CordiTex project. Could you tell us more about the aim and scope of the project?

The Cordillera Textiles Project (CordiTex) is a multi-disciplinary research that uses different approaches in the social and natural sciences to analyze traditional textiles and examine how they are transformed in the contemporary period. Specifically, CordiTex research focuses on the anthropology, history, mathematical symmetry, technology, art, ergonomics, and science of Cordillera textiles. Furthermore, the project documents textiles that can no longer be woven by local communities due to the demise of master weavers. CordiTex facilitates the reconstruction of vintage textiles through digital loom technology to rejuvenate interest in traditional weaving in the region. It collaborates with local weavers to preserve traditional weaving and revive traditional textiles through the use of digital loom weaving, popularized instructional materials on weaving, and weaving workshops; and disseminate the findings of the research through themed exhibitions, seminars, and publications. This includes the popularization of traditional weaving in the Cordillera through stories and illustrations that young children can understand and appreciate the value of this important cultural heritage.

4. After what you learnt and experienced during the training workshop at Tronrud Engineering, what value do you think the TC2 loom could bring to your research? 

With the intervention of digital loom technology, we can now replicate and reconstruct traditional weave patterns that can no longer be woven by communities in the Cordillera region. The CordiTex does not aim to replace handlooms, but use the digital loom in reconstructing and transferring the data to written form that the weavers can re-weave in their traditional looms.

Thanks, Dr Analyn for travelling to Norway with your team – it was an immensely enriching and inspiring experience for us to meet you  and your team from the University of the Philippines! We wish you much success with the your efforts to preserve and share the glory of traditional textiles from the Philippines 🙂 

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