The Tausug of Sulu (Sulu is in orange)
Tausug Chieftains wearing their pisyabit

Pis Siyabit

Pis Yabit, headscarf, tapestry weave, cotton-polyester35" width x 34" height 
Origin: Tausug
Tausug pis siyabit kambu (tapestry weave)
11" width x 60" height
Tausug pis siyabit kambu (tapestry weave)
11" width x 60" height

The Tausug women of Jolo in Sulu specialize in tapestry weaving of headcloths called "pis-yabit." They are large square pieces of colorful fabric with perfectly symmetrical geometric designs such as squares, circles, polygons, and zigzags. The patterns are thought to come from the Indian mandala, giving the weaving of each piece a spiritual leaning. 

Habul Tiyahian

Special to the Tausug is the Habul Tiyahian (or Labur Tiyahiran), the traditional hand embroidered textile used across the shoulder as a sash or wrapped around the hips as a tube skirt. It is a symbol of beauty and wealth for women and is typically worn by a bride or guests at a wedding or other formal events. 

Habul Tiyahian, embroidered bridal satin (polyester , textile decoration for festivities with Kiyambangtuli design (elongated fruit adorned with colorful leaves)78" width x 48.5" height 
Origin: Laum Suwah, Parang, Sulu
Hand Embroiderer: Marakang Appay and her apprentice Mujammil Abdul

This piece in the collection is from the Laum Suwah of Parang in Sulu. The area is so isolated that it still does not have electricity and the women must hand embroider on their front porch to take advantage of the daylight. The material is of bridal satin, not real satin, but the only polyester material available to the people from the Jolo Textile Market and Barter. This textile is rare because of its design pattern called the Kiyambangtuli, an elongated fruit surrounded by colorful leaves and other parts of the plant. It is one of the oldest Habul Tiyahian designs rarely embroidered today as popular modern designs consist of bigger flowers and leaves. According to Rambie Lim, a founding member of HABI The Philippine Textile Council,

"The embroidery skills have been passed on and shared within the community despite the 40 years of turmoil in the province had been through, though the luxurious materials like silk satins and silk threads are no longer available to them, they have been able to maintain their skills throughout the generations and hopefully now that peace has come to the region, they will be able to see prosperity in their area and be able to explore better materials while maintaining their culture and skills." 

As you can see from these photos above, the fabric is first stretched onto wooden frames and held with fabric and rope. The design is then drawn onto the cloth and then painstakingly hand embroidered. Marakang Appay and her apprentices are indeed talented embroiderers. As you can see, their stitching is so perfectly executed that a textile engineer once saw this piece and remarked, "Surely this is made by machine?" No. It is hand embroidered and it took 5 months to complete.