A story about the most famous of the Filipino textiles
It can be worn by women as a dress and by men over trousers as a formal wear.
Traditionally, the malong is handwoven by women using a backstrap loom.
Silk textiles woven into wedding saris arrived in the Philippines and Indonesia from Gujarat, India.
Also known as “patola”, these circular patterns from India were adapted by Maranao weavers.
The malong of the Maranao and the Maguindanao can either be made of silk for ceremonial occasions, or cotton for everyday wear.
Maranao malong can be grouped into two general kinds – with dyed design as seen on the left, and without dyed design, on the right.
For everyday wear, the malong is usually made of cotton with simple plaids and stripes as the preferred patterns.
The more elaborate malong made of silk, in colors of red, purple, and yellow, is worn for ceremonial occasions.
In the past, yellow was reserved for the local royalty.
Today, the men prefer the malong with dark shades of red and magenta, and the women prefer yellow.
Malong a andon
The "malong a andon" is considered the most expensive and rarest or the oldest of the three types. "Andon" refers to the "patola" motif.
Malong a landap
The "malong a landap" is characterized by "langkit", or decorative strips of profuse geometric designs, hand-sewn on the malong.This type is considered the most popular.
The two narrow "langkit" are called "tobiran" while the wider band is called the "lakban".
This "lakban" shows an inscription in "kirim", the Maranao language written using Arabic script.
Malong a ampik
The third type of malong, the "malong a ampik", is characterized by a square pattern with lines and cross lines of contrasting primary colors along black and white geometrical shapes.
The "pako rabong" or growing fern motif is popularly used in many textile traditions in Southeast Asia.
The tradition of "patola" or double ikat silk textiles traces its roots to Gujarat, India.
Although generally circular, there are variations of the "patola" design that are more angular.
The malong as it can be used as a cape.
The malong used as cowl or raincoat.
The malong can also be used as a bag or sack.
The malong as a bag, seen from behind.
One of the many ways the malong can be used as head gear.
The malong can also serve as a curtain.
Envisioned by the artist Fernando Zobel in the 1950s, the Ayala Museum was established in 1967 as a museum of Philippine history and iconography. Today, it is one of the leading art and history museums in the Philippines.
Fraser-Lu, Sylvia. Handwoven Textiles of Southeast Asia. Oxford University Press, 1988.
Guatlo, Rene E., ed. Habi: A Journey Through Philippine Handwoven Textiles. Manila: Habi The Philippine Textile Council, 2013.
Hamilton, Roy W. Textile Style Regions of Mindanao and Sulu. From the Rainbow’s Varied Hue.
Pastor-Roces, Marian. Sinaunang Habi: Philippine Ancestral Weaves. Philippines: Nikki Coseteng, 1991.
Rubinstein, Donald H. Ph.D. Fabric Treasures of the Philippines. Guam: ISLA Center for the Arts, University of Guam, 1989.
Reyes, Lydia Angelica N. The Textiles of Southern Philippines. University of the Philippines Press.
Sakili, Abraham P. Space and Identity: Expressions in the Culture, Arts and Society of the Muslims in the
Philippines. Quezon City: Asian Center, University of the Philippines, 2003.
The Malong Story: Highlights of the Datu Mastura Collection. Manila: Museum Volunteers of the Philippines, 2001.
Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, on the many uses of the malong. Marikina
Ramon N. Villegas. Makati City, Philippines.
Ma. Elizabeth "Mariles" L. Gustilo
Senior Director, Arts & Culture
Curated by Kenneth Esguerra
Research by Aprille Tijam and Tenten Mina
Design by Alezza Buenviaje
Photos by Jaime Martinez
IT Support by Arwin Ayson
Featured malongs are from the Ayala Museum Collection, the donation of Mercedes Zobel, and the Ramon Villegas Collection.
© Ayala Foundation, Inc., 2016