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Man's shirt (barong tagalog)
Place of Origin: Philippines
Date: approx. 1800-1900
Object Name: Costume
Materials: Pina (pineapple fiber), silk, cotton, and shell
Dimensions: H. 32 1/4 in x W. 60 1/2 in, H. 81.9 cm x W. 153.7 cm
Credit Line: Acquisition made possible by the Bernardo Vengco Memorial Fund
Department: Southeast Asian Art
Collection: Textiles
Object Number: 2003.27
On Display: Yes
Location: Tateuchi Thematic Gallery

Description

Label:

Today, men’s formal attire in the Philippines often consists of a barong tagalog, a lightweight, loose, and often embroidered shirt, worn untucked. Even before the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, men in the lowlands of Luzon wore loose, collarless shirts. The influence of Spanish fashions likely led to the addition of collars, buttons, embroidery, and cuffs. The most luxurious of barong tagalog are made of piña, the delicate fibers extracted from the leaves of the pineapple plant. It is believed that pineapples were brought to the Philippines by Spanish colonizers in the 1500s. Early Spanish descriptions of the islands mention skilled weavers of silk and cotton as well as far more difficult materials like abaca fibers. Thus it is no surprise Filipino weavers were able to exploit the pineapple plant.

A long and laborious process produces the gossamer-fine cloth. The fibers must be extracted by hand from the leaves, sorted, washed, dried, and then tied into threads. These threads are then arranged on the loom. Because of the delicacy of the threads, even a skilled weaver can produce only a few feet of cloth in a day. The time and effort required in the production of piña cloth made it very expensive and available only for the wealthy.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Philippine Art: Collecting Art, Collecting Memories", Asian Art Museum, 7/14/2017 - 3/11/2018
Label:

Today, men’s formal attire in the Philippines often consists of a barong tagalog, a lightweight, loose, and often embroidered shirt, worn untucked. Even before the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, men in the lowlands of Luzon wore loose, collarless shirts. The influence of Spanish fashions likely led to the addition of collars, buttons, embroidery, and cuffs. The most luxurious of barong tagalog are made of piña, the delicate fibers extracted from the leaves of the pineapple plant. It is believed that pineapples were brought to the Philippines by Spanish colonizers in the 1500s. Early Spanish descriptions of the islands mention skilled weavers of silk and cotton as well as far more difficult materials like abaca fibers. Thus it is no surprise Filipino weavers were able to exploit the pineapple plant.

A long and laborious process produces the gossamer-fine cloth. The fibers must be extracted by hand from the leaves, sorted, washed, dried, and then tied into threads. These threads are then arranged on the loom. Because of the delicacy of the threads, even a skilled weaver can produce only a few feet of cloth in a day. The time and effort required in the production of piña cloth made it very expensive and available only for the wealthy.


Exhibition History: "Philippine Art: Collecting Art, Collecting Memories", Asian Art Museum, 7/14/2017 - 3/11/2018