The crafts of Maranaos

CAGAYAN DE ORO. A sheathed Kris or Maranao sword. The kris' blade is, unlike other swords, in a wave pattern which symbolizes the Maranao's livelihood in waters. (Jo Ann Sablad)
CAGAYAN DE ORO. A sheathed Kris or Maranao sword. The kris' blade is, unlike other swords, in a wave pattern which symbolizes the Maranao's livelihood in waters. (Jo Ann Sablad)

KAHIMUNAN 2018 has recently been opened to the public and one particular booth caught my attention as I weave through the crowds gathered in SM City Cagayan de Oro Uptown's event center.

A booth designated for Bangon Marawi where various intricate handmade products by the Maranao craftsmen and artisans of Tugaya, Lanao del Sur, are showcased.

Displayed are Baors of different sizes, Kris of various length, Landap, Kulintang, Agung, Dubakan, Karanda, and Maranao dolls, among others.

Despite the said products made by those from Tugaya, Noraifa Sumandar of Bangon Marawi said the raw materials used for the said products came from Marawi.

She added that by joining the trade fair and showcasing their products to the consuming public is an indicator that even though Marawi is still recovering from the damage caused by the siege, their business sector is improving.

"Having this trade fair it's actually very significant to us, especially Maranaos, that when it comes to crisis like the Marawi crisis, still we can actually surpass any kind of tantamount crisis," Sumandar said.

"With this, we can actually show to other neighboring cities and to other people that kaya naming pumantay sa (we are on par with) other businesses even though this kind of crisis medyo mahirap sa amin (is a bit hard for us) but yet, binabangon namin ang (we are alleviating) Marawi, especially in engaging in this kind of trade fair," she added.

Displayed in their booth are:

* Baor. A treasure box or storage made of wood, Narra or Basudan (second class Narra in Maranao). It has "tipay" or pure shells which were cut into little pieces used to decorate the baor and a carved emblem called "okir."

According to Sumandar, a person can identify whether a product is genuinely made by Maranaos or not by looking for the okir. If the product has an okir carved in it, then it's a genuine Maranao product.

It will take two to three months for the craftsmen to finish an average size baor, while the smallest baor will only take three to four hours to create.

Apart from using it as storage, it can be used as a chair, center table or side table.

* Kris. The word "kris" is actually a Maranao term for sword. Although unlike the common-looking swords, kris has a very significant molded shape according to Sumandar.

One of the things that made kris different from a normal sword is its blade. As opposed to the straight form of the blade, the kris' blade is in wave pattern.

"This is actually the symbolism of Maranao. You know, when it comes to Maranao, they're not just in farm, in land, but they are actually in water also. When it comes to Kris, as what I've said, it is different from other swords. Wave ang blade niya compared dun sa other swords," Sumandar said.

The wave pattern of the blade represents the life of the Maranaos in connection with water as they also find their livelihood in water, she added.

* Landap. Also known as malong, it's a kind of cloth that is used in special occasions, especially Maranao events.

According to Sumandar, it was tradition for the Maranao bride to wear the landap as her wedding dress and not a wedding gown.

* Musical instruments. Present in their booth are the musical instruments Kulintang, Agung and Dubakan.

Sumandar said the lid of the Dubakan is actually made of goat skin. The kulintang, meanwhile, is created using "galang," a mineral nearly to gold but is not purely gold.

There are also necklaces and pen holders made out of "tinungos," which refers to the beads used in to create the product.

If you noticed, colors used in Maranao jewelry and dresses are usually yellow, red and green.

Sumandar shared that the colors actually have symbolism as to why they are used.

"When it comes to Maranao, the very dominant colors used are red, yellow and green. That's actually the colors of Maranao," she said.

She mentioned that the color yellow is the color of the royal blood in Maranao, red signifies their bravery, and green is considered as the color of heaven.

Not only the trade fair can help improve the livelihood of those in Tugaya, Lanao del Norte, it can also help the internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in evacuation center in Marawi.

A percentage from the sales they get from selling these products, Sumandat said, will be given to the Marawi IDPs.

"It's [the business sector] still on the process of developing, especially when Marawi siege gone through, so medyo nahirapan ang taga Marawi na bumangon. But with the help of DTI, we are actually coping with the lacking, especially in the business sector," Sumandar said.


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