LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The iBenguets will soon be aware on the meanings associated with the native clothes they are buying and using.
A study on the cultural implication of the Benguet native attire is being conducted by researchers from the Benguet State University (BSU). The study, under the joint efforts of BSU and Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universioties and Colleges (CARASUC) aims to document the meanings of the symbols, colors and patterns found in the ethnic Benguet costume accessories and woven products.
The documentation will serve as a basis for the improvement of the native designs for commercial purposes. The study also aims to preserve and advocate the culture embedded in native clothing of the iBenguets to pass on the culture and innate artistry to the next generation.
History accounts reveal that Benguet people are more inclined into farming thus their cloth are woven by people from Ilocos, Mt. Province and Kalinga. Though Benguet people do not originally weave their own clothing, their own clothing identifies them from other ethno-linguistic groups in the region.
Same with other tribes, every lining, design, motif, and color depicts something related to the lives of the Benguet people. Apparently, these native attires appeal to the public especially the tourist and these are easily bought to be used as curtains, wall décor, and table runners without knowing the cultural implication attached.
To some, these are being altered or mixed with other designs in order to meet the demand of mainstream fashion. Ignorance on the significance of the color combination and design will eventually lead to the loss of native Benguet attires. With this dilemma, DTI also advised these weavers and sewers not to use these native attires with cultural meanings as curtains, table runners and the like.
Benguet is composed of different ethno-linguistic groups so the uses, meanings, traditions and rituals vary from one place to another. Exact meanings cannot be determined because culture has been passed on to these old folk through oral tradition. This somehow differ their interpretations regarding the meaning of the symbols, color combination and patterns found in these native attires.
During the initial data-gathering, each town has different interpretations in the use of these attires. It depicts the social status and gender of the person using certain clothing. For example, the alahdang blanket can only be used by a person who has performed the highest level of cañao. Second in rank is the Kankanaey dilli or the Ibaloi shengdi that can only be used by men who have performed second level of cañao.
However for the Ibaloi, the use of shengdi is hereditary, in which a person can only use it when his great/grand fathers have used it. This cloth is also used when executing the tayaw(men’s dance) during festivities.
It is also notable that there are so called “eyes” in the native blankets like in the dilli/shengdi and pinagpagan, the salibobo, a head turban. These “eyes” depict the number or level of cañao the user has performed.
The status blankets are characterized by the combination of red, black and white with symbols and patterns in them. The Ibaloi kolebaw bandala and the Kankanaey bayaong, combination of black and white are usually associated with the ordinary status. These are plainly combination of color black and white with no designs in them. These native cloths are used also to wrap the corpse and as offering during rituals and ceremonies.
Colors signify the status of the user.
Aside from the blankets, this can also be seen with the women dresses. Colors being used for the kambayashu show the status of the user. Black and white is said to be for women of ordinary status. The kambayashu with different color like green, red and yellow are considered from a high status.
The devit for the women is the same, combination of red, black and white. This is also true with the men’s kuval- or G-string. Ordinary kuval is colored dirty white called the pinangsas. However, it is said that there are no other kind of g-string except of that dirty white, pure black/dark blue and the combination of dark blue with red stripes.
Generally, the performance of cañao play a very important role in what attire or blanket to use. Even if the user is rich but did not carry out cañao they still cannot use status blanket or attires. # JSagpa-ey