Abel Weaving - Vigan Traditional Crafts
The abel is the traditional woven product of Vigan
and the Ilocos region. The abel cloth is known for being
a strong, colorful material. The fabric is so strong and
beautiful that some families have them as heirlooms that
last as long as their antique furnishings.
The abel is made from yarns of cotton or sagut that are
sourced from the many lands in northern Luzon that
dedicated to the growing of this plant. After the cotton
is harvested, it is prepared into yarns and dyed.
different colored yarns are then arranged in a wooden
handloom to create varied and unique designs.
process is intricate and labor-intensive. Weavers must
master synchronizing the movements of their hands and
feet to properly use the wooden handloom.
The use of the handlooms and other weaving accessories
can be traced from early Spanish occupation.
equipment was used in homes to weave abel cloth for
blankets, pillow cases and clothes.
These crafts were
said to be a major export during the period of the
Spanish galleon trade.
It is said that the abel was so
popular a product that it proved to be a big competition
to the Spanish
weaving industry, threatening its very
At present, only a few of the barangays in Vigan have
maintained this age-old weaving industry.
Camangaan, Mindoro and San Pedro are among these.
Barangay Mindoro is known for
producing binakol or
blankets with geometric patterns. Barangays Camangaan
and San Pedro also have
their own distinct designs.
However, it is Barangay Camangaan that is most known
because it is the source
of most of the abel products
that are sold by shops in Crisologo Street and the Vigan
Public Market, where
local and foreign visitors buy
Abel products are best as wedding gifts because they are
very sturdy and beautifully-designed; but, most buyers
need no excuse to buy them outside of their great
craftsmanship, which can be enjoyed as bed and
linen. There are also wall decors, mosquito nets,
towels, robes and clothing that are sold using the abel.
The design and colors of the abel are somewhat similar
to those found in the Cordillera region, but it is
continually evolving as present-day designers strive to
update its use for the greater appreciation of the
public. Local designers with the support of government
mount fashion shows to show how the hand-made abel can
be used with other fabrics to create clothes for
everyday and special occasions.
Luthgarda in Los Angeles, has also used the abel in its
ready-to-wear collection since 1998, attracting the
attention of Hollywood celebrities. Her abel-accented
designs are also exported to Asian and European