Geometry in Bulusan’s Kinab’anan Weaving


The distinct hexagram shaped like a six pointed star repeatedly appears in a continuous pattern as one weaves the kinab’anan.

Kinab’anan means earthly or worldly. This is a  far cry to the simple and almost minimalist weaving pattern of kinab’anan of Bulusan. The reason why the locals named the weaving style as such is not known. Being a traditional craft learned from generations past the name is as old as the craft itself. And nobody is asking.

For some curious few, the guesses are varied. Some say it is because of the ‘kaban’ Bulusan’s all purpose utility rectangular wooden box traditionally used for keeping earthly possessions deemed important to the owner such as assorted keepsakes like old photos, heirloom jewelries, important documents, clothing for special occasions  etc.  A similar ‘kaban’ like woven box which serves the same purpose as the wooden kaban is also traditionally made using the kinab’anan weave.  Hence, kinaban they say is the root word which means roughly as similar or copied from the wooden kaban.

For me, however, I made my guess  by following the very visible clue,  i.e., the shape of the weave itself:  the hexagram. Thru this geometric figure  I was able to discover a very plausible answer to the question  on why kinab’anan was the name given to this traditional weave style.

The hexagram is the star-shaped geometrical figure that forms from intersecting the six strips of karagumoy that come naturally during the weaving process. At first glance the two equilateral triangles which compose the figure are  not noticeable.

But close examination reveals not only these triangles intersecting each other but also a hexagon inside the hexagram.

The hexagram is a mysterious geometrical figure that can be seen in many iconic religious and cultural symbols including the Star of David. Incidentally the hexagram is a recurring shape in almost all weaving crafts in Bulusan from the karagumoy kinab’anan ‘bay-ong’ to the utility boxes called ‘kapipi’ to the indigenous bobo fish traps for ‘turos’ fishing.

The distinct hexagram weave pattern itself provided the answer as to the origin and reason why the weave was named ‘kinab’anan’ or earthly.

Wikipedia article on the hexagram says:

“The hexagram is a mandala symbol called satkona yantra or sadkona yantra found on ancient South Indian Hindu temples. It symbolizes the nara-narayana, or perfect meditative state of balance achieved between Man and God, and if maintained, results in “moksha,” or “nirvana” (release from the bounds of the earthly world and its material trappings). ”

‘Earthly world ‘ are the key words.  This translates exactly to kinab’anan.  No wonder that for the entire weaving steps the hexagram appears repeatedly from start to finish.

Photos: Alma  P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines


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