A story about the most famous of the Filipino textiles

Detail of Maguindanao tubular garmentAyala Museum

What is a Malong?

The malong is a large, wrap-around tubular garment, measuring at least 165 x 165 cm. They are used by the Maranao and Maguindanao from southern Philippines.

Women and malong (1970/1970) by Ayala Museum Research teamAyala Museum

It can be worn by women as a dress and by men over trousers as a formal wear.

Woman weavingAyala Museum

Traditionally, the malong is handwoven by women using a backstrap loom.

Cultural groups from MindanaoAyala Museum

The tubular garment is also called...

... the "ginayan" or "tabih" among the Bagobo and B'laan, the "tadjung" among the Sama and Tausug, the "gampek" among the Subanun, and the "linaog" among the Mandaya. 

Detail of Diorama 9. The First Mass, 1521.Ayala Museum

The history of the malong

Ferdinand Magellan’s conquest of the Philippines in 1521, through his chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, already noted imported weavings from India and were already valued as part of the international trade, especially in southern Philippines.

Detail of Maranao malong a andonAyala Museum

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.

Detail of Maguindanao tubular garmentAyala Museum

The malong of the Maranao and the Maguindanao can either be made of silk for ceremonial occasions, or cotton for everyday wear.

Details of malongAyala Museum

Maranao malong can be grouped into two general kinds – with dyed design as seen on the left, and without dyed design, on the right.

Detail of Maguindanao tubular garmentAyala Museum

For everyday wear, the malong is usually made of cotton with simple plaids and stripes as the preferred patterns.

Detail of Maguindanao malongAyala Museum

The more elaborate malong made of silk, in colors of red, purple, and yellow, is worn for ceremonial occasions.

Detail of Maranao malongAyala Museum

In the past, yellow was reserved for the local royalty.

Womens and the malong (1970/1970) by Ayala Museum Research TeamAyala Museum

Today, the men prefer the malong with dark shades of red and magenta, and the women prefer yellow.

Men and malong, Ayala Museum Research Team, 1970/1970, From the collection of: Ayala Museum
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Details of malongAyala Museum

Other types of malong: "malong a andon" and "malong a landap"

In addition to the two general kinds, the malong can be grouped into three general types as well. Two are represented in the Ayala Museum Collection: The "malong a andon" on the left, and the "malong a landap" on the right.

Detail of Maranao malong a andonAyala Museum

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 landapAyala Museum

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.

Detail of malong a AmpikAyala Museum

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.

Pako rabong patternAyala Museum

Common motifs found on malong

The "pako Rabong" and the "matola" are the most common motifs found on the malong.

The "pako rabong" or growing fern motif is popularly used in many textile traditions in Southeast Asia.

Pako Rabong overlayAyala Museum

Pako rabong patternAyala Museum

Detail of patola patternAyala Museum

The tradition of "patola" or double ikat silk textiles traces its roots to Gujarat, India.

Patola pattern overlayAyala Museum

Although generally circular, there are variations of the "patola" design that are more angular.

Patola patternAyala Museum

Uses of the malongAyala Museum

The many uses of a malong

Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, Ramon Magsaysay awardee demonstrates the many uses of the malong. The Ramon Magsaysay Award is given to Asian individuals who have achieved excellence in their respective fields. Mrs. Amilbangsa was awarded in 2015 for her work in the preservation and promotion of the traditional "pangalay" dance.

Uses of the malongAyala Museum

The malong as it can be used as a cape.

Uses of the malongAyala Museum

The malong used as cowl or raincoat.

Uses of the malongAyala Museum

The malong can also be used as a bag or sack.

Uses of the malongAyala Museum

The malong as a bag, seen from behind.

Uses of the malongAyala Museum

One of the many ways the malong can be used as head gear.

Uses of the malongAyala Museum

The malong can also serve as a curtain.

The Ayala MuseumAyala Museum

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.

Credits: Story


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
City, Philippines
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 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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