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Fashion Guide

Here’s a visual reference for some of the fashion that is featured in The Moonlight Blade.

Bahag – Loincloth worn by men, folded in a particular way to cover the genitals. The pattern and color can indicate tribe or status. It is worn without anything on top, to show off tattoos on the upper body.

Photo: Gerhard Sisters 1904, Public Domain, Missouri History Museum
Baro – A collarless long sleeved shirt or jacket, with an opening in the front. The figure to the left is wearing a baro and tapis

Illustration: Boxer Codex (16th Century Spanish manuscript), Public Domain
Batik – A fabric print technique that developed in Indonesia. Designs are created using a wax-resist method, and multiple dyes. There are several techniques for creating patterns, but the stamp print is the least labor intensive. Other techniques involve up to a year of hand painting.

Photo: Ardyansa Nugraha, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Batok / Tatak – Tatooing was originally practiced by most tribes in the Philippines, but was discouraged by the Spanish so many traditions have died out. Tattoos indicated rank, tribe, family, wealth, beauty, or accomplishments. Some were meant as symbols for protection. More tattoos made you more desirable (true for all genders). Stylized geometric designs represent animals and nature: The snake (for protection), lizard (wisdom) etc.

Illustration: Boxer Codex (16th Century Spanish manuscript), Public Domain
Beading – Commonly used in jewelry as well as embellishment on clothing. Typical materials include mother of pearl, brass, glass, and wood.

Photo: Hiart, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Brass casting – A traditional form of metal work practiced by various indigenous tribes including the T’boli, Mangyan, and the Blaan. Commonly cast items are bracelets, bangles, bells, and belt buckles.

Brass bells attached to anklets, jewelry, belts, and even sword hilts. Anklets are used in the Singkil, which is a dance retelling of the Maranao Epic of Darangen, where Princess Gandingan is abducted by the diwata and rescued by Prince Bantugan. 

Photo: Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Gold Jewelry – In pre-colonial times, gold was so plentiful it was considered decorative and not a sign of wealth. Even common people were draped in gold: earrings, belts, combs, necklaces, bracelets. This astounded the Spanish (who of course, took it, along with the land it came from). Many traditional goldsmithing techniques have since been lost or forgotten.

Photo: Hiart, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Malong – A woven tube of fabric that can be tied into a skirt or dress. Similar to a sarong, it is unisex, and can also be used as a rain cover, baby sling, blanket, sail, etc. Kappa Malong-Malong is a traditional dance that displays some of the ways the malong can be worn. It can be rolled up, tied, or fixed in place with a belt or scarf. Here’s another version of the dance. And here are some modern fashion shots!

Photo: BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Piña – A fabric woven from pineapple leaf fibers. It is semi-transparent, and is usually embroidered with natural motifs. Piña is still prized today, and used in the Philippine national dress.
Note: The Spanish introduced the pineapple to the Philippines in the 1500s, so this shouldn’t technically appear in this story. However, for the purpose of this tale, I imagined it came to the archipelago by other means.

Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tapis – A rectangle of cloth that is worn as a skirt. Similar to a malong or sarong, but usually worn short by all genders. In the mountain regions, thicker weaves are used. After Spanish colonization, in lowland areas it was worn over a long skirt for modesty and evolved into the baro’t saya. See here to view historical illustrations and the evolution of the tapis.

Photo: Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Additional References