The Ikat is an extremely complex dyeing and weaving technique which involves tying and dyeing according to the different design and pattern and later woven into the fabric. The more colorful the Ikat, the more complicated the production process.
This work is a banana fiber fabric from the Mindanao island of the Philippines and is created by members of the T'boli Tribe. Traditionally, female members of the royal family pass down tales about the T'boli Tribe through weaving. Therefore, the fabric is seen as sacred and is known as T’nalak. Female members of the T’boli Tribe learn the weaving skills from their grandmothers, mothers, or sisters, working as assistances from an early age to help with the dyeing, weaving, and tie-dyeing of the fabric. Gradually, they become more and more proficient with the complete process while male family members are in charge of processing the banana fabric fiber. Therefore, the completion of each T’nalak involves different members from the family.
Female T’boli weavers are often called “dream weavers” due to their belief that the patterns were inspired by ancestral spirits or the Fu Dalu (the spirit for Manila Hemps) through dreams. These patterns will be passed down or shared, but not every weaver will know all patterns; some patterns are only spread within the family. T’nalak fabrics are usually used during ceremonies and festivals as offerings to spirits. Till this day, members of the T’boli Tribe continue to use T’nalak to exchange for food and commodities.