Inaul announced its arrival in the international scene when the 65th Ms. Universe candidates sashayed onto the catwalk wearing this textile from Maguindanao. The most recent SONA also saw several of our congresswomen proudly wearing the fabric. From our moviestar lawmakers Ms. Vilma Santos-Recto with her long-green dress, Ms. Lucy Torres-Gomez with her dark-blue striped skirt (with her daughter Juliana also wearing Inaul), to Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo who carried off a bright diamond patterned fuchsia dress. Inaul is certainly getting the spotlight it deserves.
Inaul is Part of the Philippines’ Culture
Inaul, literally meaning woven, is a handmade fabric with designs handed down from generation to generation. Its luxurious texture is a blend of silk and gold threads infused into the pure cotton threads and woven in complicated techniques. Traditionally, there are twenty identified designs ranging from the rare heirloom Riyal to the rainbow-hued binaludto. Each color knitted into the Inaul has a significance, with white associated with mourning or sadness, and black symbolizing dignity. The green of nature signifies peace, while red symbolizes the Maguindanaon’s bravery. Royalty, in their colors of yellow and orange, wore the inaul as a malong, a tubular fabric, or sablay, a loose garment, as they travelled through the riverways that connected kingdoms. “It is said that Inaul may be a malong, but not all malongs are inaul. Inaul is synonymous with Maguindanao (the old name of Mindanao). It is a fabric woven by a great race, a symbol of royalty of a great nation that once ruled Mindanao. Today, Inaul does not only represent the rulers of the sultanate of this magnificent land, but it also amplifies the greatness of the people,” says Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sinsuat A. Sema, Rep. of the First District of Maguindanao and Cotabato City.
Intricate Designs Created by Maguindanaons
Each weaver has learnt the art of Inaul weaving from observing their elders. The fabric’s design can range from the simple to the tipas that requires two to three weavers collaborating in order to produce an ornate work of art. The complicated weaving techniques produce one-of-a-kind designs such as rainbows, stripes and taro. A fabric can take half a day to up to five days just to produce a piece of Malong. Valued for its historical significance, the Inaul is a product of the mixture of the lineage of Sheriff Muhammad Kabungsuan, the first Sultan of Mindanao, and the natives. “Inaul represents how Maguindanaons preserve their inheritance, strengthen their unity, nourish their culture, defend their land, and share their bounty. It is the embodiment of the past of Maguindanaons, it is the joy of their present, and it is the hope of their future,” says Sema.