Pina Fabric - Indigenous Material of Barong Tagalog and Other Ingenious Fibers
PINA FABRIC – INDIGENOUS MATERIAL OF BARONG TAGALOG AND OTHER INGENIOUS FIBERS
Piña fabric is the ingenious fabric derived from the leaves of the Spanish Red Pineapple. It is said that its one of the finest of all hand-woven fabrics in the Philippines. Piña fabric is hand-weaved from pineapple leaf fiber. But because Piña weavers in the country are diminishing, its scarceness makes the delicate Piña cloth expensive.
These pineapple fibers are naturally glossy and have a white-ivory color. This delicate fiber cloth is translucent, soft and fine with quality that outshine. Since piña fabric is hand-loomed by a reducing species of weavers, the fabric becomes precious and scarce that makes it expensive.
The major end use of Piña fiber is the famous Barong Tagalog, wedding gowns and other traditional Philippine formal clothesline. Less delicate Piña fabric are used for hanker-chiefs, table linens, bags and other clothing accessory items.
Barong Tagalog are used by Presidents, politicians and other famous businessmen. It was popularized as formal wear by then Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, who wore it to most official and personal affairs, including his inauguration as president. In Filipino culture barong is usually used in wedding and formal attire for men and also women. The term “Barong Tagalog” simply means tagalog or Filipino dress. It is very lightweight and worn tucked out (similar to a coat or dress-shirt), over an undershirt.
The traditional ornamentation for this fabric is a style of hand embroidery called calado. An embroidered piña garment is most commonly called piña calado. The colorings of these hand-woven fabrics are from vegetable dyes originating from leaves and bark of different plants.
The filmy fiber from the Red Spanish variety of pineapple grown in the provinces of Aklan, Palawan and Camarines Norte of Bicol Region became an important fabric material. Novelty items made of piña cloth were considered desirable gifts for royalty. In 1862, a handkerchief made from fine piña cloth was presented as a wedding gift to Queen Alexandra on her marriage to Edward VII. Its replica can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Piña fiber is often blended with other ingenious materials like cotton, abaca or silk to produce a wonderful gently fabric. When mix-woven with silk, it is called piña-silk or piña-seda. When woven with jusi, it is piña-jusi, with sheer and strength and less expensive that piña.
Jusi cloth is soft sheer fabric made from the fibers of pineapple leaves and mechanically woven stronger that Piña cloth. It was also made from abaca or banana silk and was replaced by imported silk – organza.
Piña-jusi fabric is the latest innovation on barong fabric that came out of the market and gaining quality. The combine blending of the sheerness of pineapple fibers and the strength of Jusi fiber offers a durable fabric for equal formal need for particular affairs.
Linen fabric is another natural fiber that is durable and comfortable. Linen can be hand washed and dry clean only. It presses nicely to a firm and tender fabric. Linen is often used for tablecloths, sheets, and curtains. Linen also has a nice easy shape and feel that make it a popular choice for clothing.
Abaca fiber produced from a plant indigenous to the Philippines which grows in the country for centuries is cautiously woven to make sinamay fabric. The fabric gained worldwide popularity as Manila hemp-preferred rope by sailors including the US Navy. Now, it is widely used to manufacture novelty goods, home furnishing and raw specialty papers.
In October 2009, many of the country’s talented fashion designers showcase their finest collections in the gala show at the SMX Convention Center in celebrating the International Year of Natural Fibers with the cooperation of the Fiber Industry Development Authority of the Department of Agriculture. The show serves as a tribute to the people in agriculture who painstakingly produce high quality fibers that are solely to and have become pride of the Philippines.
The show put forward the art of hand weaving; an important craft and skill handed down from generation to generation while the indigenous fabrics admired for absolute beauty, uniqueness and worldwide appeal; but most importantly, generate sustained demand globally.
Just recently, the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines launched the “Weaving the Future” contest using the country’s indigenous fabrics in a modern way, to modernize the impression of a Filipino look. The FDCP president, JC Buendia added that “This is intended to dispel the notion that local fabrics are only used for ‘costumes.’
‘Jusi,’ ‘piña,’ ‘capiz,’ ‘abaca,’ banana ‘seda’-indigenous materials take center stage Lifestyle Column Philippine Daily Inquirer E-1 November 18, 2011
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