Banig refers to the traditional woven mat made in the Philippines. On account of the ingenuity employed in its creation, as practiced especially by some ethnolinguistic groups in the southern island group of Mindanao, banig weaving is considered an artistic activity. The raw materials used in weaving banig vary among ethnolinguistic groups, depending on available resources.
Handed down as a tradition and a trade from one generation to another, banig weaving has a long history in the country.
The designs and motifs of banig, as well as the raw materials used in weaving, differ from one ethnolinguistic group to another. Among the boat-dwelling Badjao of Sulu and the agricultural Samal of Tawi-Tawi, pandan is used. While the mats of these two groups feature practically the same color (green, orange, red, violet blue and yellow), they differ in design and motif. The Badjao mat is characterized by vibrant colors and spontaneous geometric patterns and symbols reflecting the group's way of life such as those of crabs, wave, boats and marine life forms. On the other hand, the Samal mat's prominent patterns are stripes, multi-colored squares, zigzags and checkered patterns of white and other colors. It also sports muted colors and is comparatively soft in texture. The mat of the Tausug, also of Sulu, is similar in design to that of the Samals.
The Maranao of Lanao and the Maguindanaon of Cotabato have a common weaving tradition presumably due to their proximity to each other. Their primary raw material is a rush plant known locally as sesed. Their banig features the colors green, maroon, yellow and blue and is characterized by irregular patterns of geometric shapes in different colors. The most interesting feature perhaps of their banig is its round-shaped variation, which is the only mat of such shape produced in the country.
The Tboli of Highland Mindanao opt for simplicity as opposed to their more design-oriented counterparts. Their banig, made of locally found reed, are typically not dyed. The Tagbanua of Palawan make their banig with careful attention to durability; they weave together rattan strips which they reinforce by locking their edges with smaller strips.
The mat made in Samar, with its lush colors and attractive designs, is arguably the most ubiquitous in the country. Marrying tradition with present-day conventions, Samar weavers employ the same weaving process on their banig as the Maranao but the product differs radically in design. The weavers of Basey, Samar, regarded as the center of mat weaving in the province, use such stylized motifs as flowers and other ornamental objects. Their banig, made of tiko reed, can even go as modern and elaborate as to feature portraits of both local and foreign figures.
In the Cordilleras, banig is woven using a reed referred to locally as rono. A variation is at times made of bark strips which takes considerably longer to weave.
- Banig: The Art of Mat Making. www.ncca.gov.ph. (June 21, 2010.)
- Weaving: Libertad's Pride. www.ernan.net. (June 21, 2010.)