Agnes Mangili  - Banaue, Ifugao

Basketry entails weaving without a loom. It may well be considered the oldest and most universal of all crafts since materials that lend itself to basketry are easily accessible. Determining the antiquity of this craft offers a difficulty, though, because of the highly perishable vegetable fibers used in its construction. Called “the mother of pottery,” baskets were used as molds and models for pots created by craftsmen of ancient civilization. 

The beginnings of basket making in the Philippines may not be easy to ascertain. Nonetheless, the forms the baskets have taken over time provide one with knowledge about the early technology employed by people in negotiating with their surroundings. Baskets have taken a variety of shapes and functions, and may be grouped according to the following classification: food containers, animal traps, harvest containers, dress ornaments, house construction, and ritual objects. 

Materials come from plant fibers endemic to the basket making site. Rattan, nito, bamboo, pandan leaves are only some of the raw materials used in the craft-making. The basket maker’s tools are the basic bolo or farm knife used to cut or gather the materials, a smaller hand knife with a blade from 10 to 18 centimeters in length, and sometimes a small punch for making holes. Baskets may be of plaited construction, where the fibers are arranged in a criss-crossing manner; coiled, where the fibers run parallel along one axis and are held together by another fiber type coiled around the each of the parallel fibers; openwork, twined, and sewn, as in the case of raincoats made from grass. 

In making a basket, the maker considers three essential elements: the material, the gauge of the material including the amount of time involved it its preparation, and the final form, which always follows function. Ornamentation is done through textural or color change, which may be achieved by reversing the material or stripping it of its protective skin or bark. Other materials may be interwoven to create contrasting design patterns. When done with care and attention, the finishing details of the basket such as the binding of a rim become elements of ornamentation.