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Celebrating the Philippines’ bead wearing tradition

August 9 marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to the UN, “Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.”

Our country has a large number of indigenous groups, with rich cultures and interesting traditional practices. Sadly, a number of these have been forgotten or aren’t practiced anymore, for various reasons. Many groups have done their best to keep specific crafts and traditions going throughout the ages. The availability and distribution of more native products have helped to preserve some of these traditions, and have brought our local craftwork local and international attention.

Photo by Linh Pham on Unsplash

One of the ways we can remember and honor our local indigenous cultures is by appreciating the creativity and skill they use in making various products, such as beaded accessories. Numerous indigenous groups in the Philippines have a rich and varied bead wearing tradition that they practice until now.

The Igorots, an indigenous group from the Cordilleras, wear clothing with intricate patterns and colorful bead necklaces. Wearing beads is part of the tradition of the Kalinga people as well, who are also from the Cordilleras. Kalinga heirloom beads are passed on from generation to generation during births and marriages. Beads are used by various other groups not just as accessories, but to decorate their clothing and as headwear. The patterns and materials used vary among groups, but common colors used are black, red, white and yellow.

When you wear local accessories handmade on a bead loom, you’re wearing something that represents a small part of our indigenous peoples’ unique history and culture.

You can get handmade beaded cuffs and chokers from our shop here.