BALAY NI ATONG
is the precise term for woven cloth produced on the Ilocano loom and embodies the characteristic attributes of an Ilocano Abel which is made of cotton, well-woven and with straight-neat edges. The inabel is distinguished from all other Philippine and even Asian textiles for its sturdiness in construction, stark simplicity of design, and practicality in function.
Remarkable for their rich coloring and bold designs, hand-woven textiles are an important part of the long, varied cultural heritage of the Ilocos region. History records that Inabel were rooted traditions at the time the Spanish colonized the Ilocos region in the 1500’s. Neighboring Asian countries were already trading their gold, ceramics, iron and beads with Inabel in the natural harbors along the coasts. For centuries Inabel has been used as clothing, blankets and even sails for galleons.
Today, due to the local market being flooded with factory- processed imported textiles- not to mention the enticement of higher income generating jobs in foreign countries-the number of weavers willing to continue the tradition of textile weaving has been dramatically reduced. There are currently less than 300 active weavers in the region, some weaving traditions have died with the weavers and some weaving communities have vanished.
Balay ni Atong currently houses the Study Center for Traditional Hand-Woven Textiles of the Ilocos Region. It is the hope of the center to achieve sustainability between scholars and weavers by reintroducing quality made inabel not as ordinary textiles but as artworks produced by artisans.
Balay ni Atong showcases hand woven textiles done on traditional wooden looms by Ilocano artisans using weaving techniques passed on through generations. Woven patterns on the fabric are based on designs of antique blankets and clothing materials dating from the 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. Although the reproduced to contemporary textiles carry the traditional designs, they are made younger by using colors, scales and some technology of today.
Together with our new bigger community of Ilocano weavers, Balay ni Atong invite you to join us in exploring the amazing journey of the Ilocano weaving tradition. The spirit of Abel lives on!
Through your patronage you are helping keep the inabel tradition alive.