The other day, we had a little guessing game about this delicately embroidered piece of cloth. I showed you some close-up photos and asked if you could guess what the cloth was made of, and many of you did.
Still, the answer is hard to believe! The following pieces, embroidered in the Philippines probably before World War II, are made from piña cloth, or cloth woven from fiber taken from the fronds of pineapple plants.
A while ago, a reader in Australia contacted me about embroidery on piña cloth, as she was on a quest to find a source for the fabric.
I had seen photos of such embroidery, and I was familiar with the Barong Tagalog, the formal, embroidered shirt often made from piña cloth and worn by men of the Philippines for important functions.
But I had never seen any piña cloth in person, let alone any embellished with the delicate and intricate embroidery that is produced by hand in the Philippines.
And thus, I began hunting for samples that I could buy, so that I could see this embroidery in person, up close, and examine it carefully. I was fortunate to be able to buy five pieces.
My friend in Australia also found a source for piña fabric and was able to invest in a few yards. She generously sent me a piece of the new cloth, to examine and try for myself.
And so, I find myself enamored with piña cloth and the type of embroidery stitched upon it – not just with the physical product, though, but the whole process behind it, and the whole significance of the cloth and process to the culture that produces it.
I’m even toying with the notion of establishing pineapple plantations here in Kansas.
I left my fingers in some of the photos, so that you can get an idea of how incredibly fine the embroidery is!
The pieces that I have, judging from their condition and what information I could glean about them, are somewhat old, and they show signs of being stored in poor conditions for a while, including spot stains, discoloration along the folds, and general age discoloration.
Besides that, though, they’re in great shape. The fabric is still strong, the embroidery is exquisite.
Interesting Explorations into Piña Cloth
Over the weekend, I thought you would enjoy exploring the wonders of piña cloth and the embroidery of the Philippines.
The following video is a must-see! It shows how piña cloth is made, from beginning to end. I’ve watched the video some twenty times – and every time, I watch it with amazement!
E-Mail subscribers reading this in your inbox can enjoy viewing both videos here.
Below is another excellent video worth watching, informative as far as history and heritage goes, full of excellent photos (including photos of embroidery) and up-close video of some of the processes involved in making piña cloth. Check out especially the delicate work of knotting the individual fibers together before weaving – it’s mind-boggling!
And, for your reading pleasure, here are some articles worth exploring:
Lumban Embroidery from the blog Traveler on Foot
Piña Embroidery in Lumban, from the blog Spargel&Fraise
Lumban & the Craft of Embroidery in the Philippines, from the blog, Muni, which is a collaborative community blog.
More Explorations to Come
Over the weekend, I’ll be cleaning my embroidered pieces, and later on, we’ll talk about that process and I’ll share with you some before and after photos. I’ll also show you the new piña fabric lined up next to the old, and, eventually, we’ll experiment with the new fabric.
I hope you enjoy the videos and the articles above! If you have any questions, insights, comments, amazed exclamations, or anything that you want to share, feel free to join in the conversation below!