Fibre, Cloth and Clothing

Malcolm Mintz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This chapter begins with a discussion of the dominant fibre of the Bikol region, abaca. Included is a description of the plant, where it was grown, when it was ready to be cut and how the fibres were removed from the concentric circles of the stem. Also covered is the cleaning, drying and bleaching of the fibres, their sorting, selection and use, and how they were prepared for cordage or weaving. Section 2 introduces two of the other main fibres used in the region, cotton and silk, and how they were dyed and spun.

In Section 3 is an extended discussion of the loom and weaving. Presented is a description of the backstrap loom and its various parts, including combs, reeds, rods and shuttles. The process of weaving follows, including determining the finished size of the cloth, the choice of thread by texture and colour, the fixing of the warp threads and the eventual weaving of the weft. Included in this section as well is the finishing and treatment of the cloth once it is cut from the loom. Section 4 looks again at cotton and silk, but his time as finished cloth, and touches briefly on the use of bark as an early source of clothing. Section 5 is a short section which examines the various sources of dye and their resultant colouring of a fabric.

Sewing in its various forms is the subject of Section 6. The implements used are presented, as well as sewing techniques from basic basting and hemming, to the more decorative edging styles with bows, braiding and scallops. Various styles of embroidery are also mentioned here. The section ends with the tailoring of cloth to turn it into clothing.

Section 7 is the presentation of clothing, the types worn by men and women and the blankets which served as both upper and lower garments. Also discussed is the way clothes were worn, how suitable they were for the wearer, what condition they were in and how they were washed and stored. Section 8 ends the chapter with a discussion of headwear, including the types and construction of hats, and the softer head coverings made from cloth.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Subtitle of host publicationMonograph 1: The Philippines at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century: with particular reference to the Bikol region
EditorsCarolyn Brewer
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherThe Australian National University
ISBN (Electronic)9780646568195
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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