Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

The URI Historic Textile and Costume Collection

On-line Catalog

Filipino Child's Ensemble
(# 1953.43.2)

Donors: Mrs. Rush S. Fay and Mrs. Phillip Hodge

Accession Number: 1953.43.2

The people of the Philippine Islands have a rich heritage, which is reflected in the cut and design of their garments and textiles. Although ten cultural groups inhabit the Luzon mountain region, these peoples are collectively known as Igorot. The ten cultural groups are the Ifugoa, Bontoc, Kankanay, Ibaloi, Kalinga, Tinguian, Isneg, Gaddang, Ilongot, and Negritos tribes. Igorot translates as mountaineer and is a term adopted by younger generations as an expression of ethnic identity.  Primarily hunters and gatherers, the use of Tapa bark cloth and animal skins dominates their textile tradition.  This tradition is still evident today in the cut and textile design of clothing made by indigenous tribes.


Figure 1. Child's tapis

Figure 2. Child's blanket skirt

The child’s outfit illustrated in Figures 1 and 2 comes from the mountain city of Baguio. It can be identified as belonging to the Ibaloi tribe by the textile design, cut and construction. The outfit consists of a tapis, or blanket skirt, and a matching jacket. The tapis and jacket are both worn wrapped around the body so that the warp yarns are horizontal rather than the more usual vertical. Unlike the clothing of most Filipino tribes, the tapis is long and  reaches the ground rather than the knee. The textile design is a horizontal striped pattern in various widths and colors, primarily black, yellow, red, green, and blue. The tapis is cotton and is comprised of four different textiles, each woven on a backstrap loom  measuring 42 cm wide or less (Fraser-Lu 1993).

The construction of the tapis and the jacket is similar to other garments by cultures with an animal skin tradition. A similar example can be found in Cut My Cote (Burnham 1973: 20). The tapis is constructed from three bands of fabric sewn together vertically. Fringed ribbon runs along the ends horizontally and parallel to the weft yarns. The body of the jacket, from the hem to just above the armscye, is made of a single piece of fabric. The sleeves, which are constructed in the same manner, are rectangular and taper in slightly towards the armscye.

This child’s ensemble is typical of the Ibaloi tribe from the Luzon mountain region of the Northern Philippines. From their ancestry, the Ibaloi have continued to cut and construct their garments in a manner derived from an animal skin tradition. The colors and patterning are also indicative of clothing from this tribe and region.

Broudy, Eric. The Book of Looms: A History of the Handloom from Ancient Times to the Present. New York: Litton Educational Publishing, 1979.

Burnham, Dorothy. Cut My Cote. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1973.

Ellis, George R. “Arts and Peoples of the Northern Philippines.” In The People and the Arts of the Philippines. Father Gabriel Casal and Regalado Trota Jose, Jr.,        eds. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, 1981.

Fraser-Lu, Sylvia. “South East Asia” In 5,000 Years of Textiles. Jennifer Harris, ed. London: British Museum Press, 1993.

 By Elizabeth Lykken

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