The Art of Yakan: Weaving the Old History in the Modern Times

Yakan Weaving: The Art and Culture of the Yakan Tribes

Yakan Weaving Village in Zamboanga City 

The famous Yakan Weaving Village in Upper Calarian in Zamboanga City is the village where the Yakan tribe lives. The merchandising area of the village that visitors first see is a collection of stalls selling handwoven Yakan weavings using traditional weaving techniques. Further inside is a flight of stairs that leads to the weaving station where visitors can watch the weavers at work. The handwoven products are famous for the use of bold colors and intricate geometric patterns.

Yakan Weaving Village
Yakan Weaving Village

The village is more than a place to buy Yakan products. It is the proof of the resilience of the Yakan tribe against the escalating violence in their hometown, of pride in their culture at times when tradition is left behind, and of hope for the future of the next generation.

What does “Yakan” mean?

The Yakans are one of the indigenous groups that first settled in the Basilan Islands where the traditional weaving first started. Because of the political unrest that led to armed conflicts between the militant Muslims and government soldiers in the 70s and the 90s, the community had to flee and took refuge in Zamboanga City.

Yakan Weaving
Yakan Weaving

Traditionally, the weaving technique used fibers converted from pineapple and abaca plants as weaving material. The fabrics were then dyed using extracts from leaves, roots, and barks. Influence from Christian Filipinos and the American Peace Corps and the increasing popularity of visitors from the Philippines and other countries brought changes to the process of weaving. For economic reasons and better customer experience, weavers started making other handwoven products using chemical dyes.

Yakan Weaving Village
Yakan Weaving Village

Tennun is the weaving tapestry tradition of the Yakans and they are now being used to make shoes, bags, wallets, pillowcases, placemats, and table runners. New designs and patterns emerged like kenna-kenna, designed after a fish, palipattang, designed after a rainbow, bunga-sama, designed after a snake, dawen-dawen, designed after the leaf of a vine, pene Mata-Mata, designed after the shape of an eye and the kabang buddi, the diamond-shaped pattern. Despite the established patterns that the weavers use and the set of colors assigned per product, no two handwoven products look the same.

Things to See and Do

Watch the Weavers at Work

Each woven product is made by hand and the weavers are happy to let visitors watch them work. The back-breaking job of weaving a product can take a minimum of 5 hours per day, depending on the order.

Tennun on display at the Yakan Village in Zamboanga City
Tennun on display at the Yakan Village in Zamboanga City

Buy the Yakan Products

Weaving is a major source of income in this village, and purchasing their handwoven crafts will greatly support their livelihood. Other than woven fabrics, the weavers also sell seputangan (head cloth), face masks, shoulder bags, dining accessories, and other souvenirs.

Mindanao Antique and Replicas
Mindanao Antique and Replicas

Spread the Word

Share the experience of visiting Yakan Weaving Village with your friends online. Weavers rely on tourism for their income so sharing the experience is a great help.

Where to buy Yakan Cloth / Textile?

Evelynda Otong
Address: Yakan Village, Zamboanga City
Mobile: 09355690272

How to Get to Yakan Weaving Village

From Zamboanga City, ride a jeep bound to Upper Calarian. Get a jeep in Volderosa Street near the public market. Ask the driver and make sure the jeep will pass Gate 2 which will pass the village. Jeepneys passing Gate 1 will pass by the village. Only a small tarp marks the village so ask the driver to drop you off at the village. Depending on the traffic, travel time can be between 30 minutes to an hour. Jeepney fare is Php10.

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