Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1918 Bagobo magani
Subjectdatu / magani warrior chief
Culture: Bagobo / Manobo and related Lumad peoples
Setting: tribal warfare, Mindanao early 20thc.

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Hamilton 1998 p28 (Roy W Hamilton, "From the rainbow's varied hue: Textile style regions of Mindanao and Sulu" p14-101)
"Bagobo society, like that of many of the neighboring groups as well, was stratified into four named segments.  At the top were the datu, or chieftains, whose positions were sometimes, although not always, inherited.  Next was a class of prominent warriors called magani, who were distinguished by having taken human life in warfare.  The third segment consisted of commoners and the fourth of slaves.  These were not entirely rigid categories, as the datu and magani segments were not mutually exclusive, and commoners could become magani through their actions.  The elaborateness of clothing was closely related to social standing, and special types of garments were reserved for the datu and magani.  Violation of these sumptuary privileges was considered a serious matter, subject to supernatural rather than human punishment."

* Harpe/Peplow 1991 p537
"In former times, Bagobo society was divided into datus, freemen, and slaves.  Young men strived to attain the rank of magani (a warrior class whose members had killed more than one enemy and were entitled to wear distinctive red clothing)."

* Hall 1916 online
"A freeman’s chief ambition is to become a magani, and be known as such by his distinctive garments. The magani’s victims are not necessarily members of a hostile tribe: a man may count two in his score for the slaying of an unfaithful wife and her lover; and even one of his own townsfolk, if killed in fair fight, will go to increase his tally."

* Hamilton 1998 p172 n23 (Roy W Hamilton, "From the rainbow's varied hue: Textile style regions of Mindanao and Sulu" p14-101)
"There are no accounts of Bagobo taking heads, but warfare and human sacrifice were institutionalized among them in much the same way that headhunting complexes operated in other Southeast Asian societies."  [CONTRA Viriginia War Museum > America at War]

* Demetrio 1991 v2 p223 (citing Garvan 1929 p203)
"The bagani or warrior priests of the Manobo are protected by supernatural beings called tagbúsau, whose blood-thirsty cravings they must satisfy.  This priesthood is not hereditary but a pure gift from warlike spirits who select certain mortals as favorites, constantly guard them from their enemies, teach them the use of various secret herbs for invisibility and invulnerability, bestow on them additional soul companions to protect them from the anger of the resentful slain, and in general afford them immunity from all material and spiritual dangers."

* Hamilton 1998 p172 n6 (Roy W Hamilton, "From the rainbow's varied hue: Textile style regions of Mindanao and Sulu" p14-101)
"Over six hundred Japanese involved in the abaca industry, mostly small-scale planters, were killed between 1918 and 1938 by Bagobo who were resisting the taking of land and the felling of fruit trees for abaca plantations."




* Demetrio 1991 p593 (quoting Dacanay 1977 p924)
"For defense, the Bagobo rely on shields which are either oblong or round and on strips of hemp cloth to cover their bodies and ward off knife thrusts."

* Hall 1916 online
"Shields are either round or oblong. The round shield is practically identical with those carried by some Javanese tribes and by the Maros [SIC]."

* Benitez/Barbier 2000 p142
"In former times, the Bagobo frequently feuded with other Bagobo settlements and conducted raids further south against the B'laan and Tagakaulu, their hereditary enemies.  During battle, they began by using bows and arrows and spears from a distance.  Then they rushed towards they enemy brandishing long knives and engaged them in close combat.  They crouched behind their shields, skipping back and forth continuously rather in the manner of a dance.  To protect themselves, the Bagobo covered their bodies with strips of hemp cloth and, before that, added layers of long decorated strips called gindua.  However, their primary defensive weapon was the shield."


* Anawalt 2007 p303
"The Bagobo of mountainous central and southern Mindanao were known for their beautifully crafted cloth woven from the fiber of the abaca plant (Musa textilis), a close relative of the banana.  Bagobo men once wore highly burnished and intricately decorated jackets and short trousers.  To the proud Bagobo, the wearing of beautiful clothing was particularly important because personal adornment equated with virtuous character."

* Hamilton 1998 p31 (Roy W Hamilton, "From the rainbow's varied hue: Textile style regions of Mindanao and Sulu" p14-101)
"The Bagobo had an elaborately graded system of color and garment symbolism.  ... [M]agani who had taken two human lives wore the tangkulo, those who had taken four wore pants of the same material, and those who had taken six lives were entitled to a full suit.  ... [T]he depth of color, ranging from light red to chocolate brown, reflected the number of lives taken, while ... the number of markings in the pattern reflected the number of lives taken. ... [M]agani who had taken more than twenty lives were once entitled to wear full abaca suits of black but that this was no longer practiced in 1910 ....  This color ideology was based on the precept that only those who have provided the diety Mandarangan with human blood sacrifice were entitled to wear the red pelangi cloth.  The preoccupation with depth of red-brown shades therefore seems to have reflected a notion of saturation with blood." [references omitted]

* Benitez/Barbier 2000 p142
"Traditionally, the Bagobo engaged in combat to avenge the death of a family member, secure loot and slaves, or win the distinction of being called a magani. A dress-coded system of hierarchy prevailed and permission to don chocolate-coloured headbands was given to those who had killed two or more people, blood-red trousers to those who had killed four, and full maroon suits to those who could claim six."

* Hamilton 1998 p28 (Roy W Hamilton, "From the rainbow's varied hue: Textile style regions of Mindanao and Sulu" p14-101)
"The characteristic garment of the magani was a special headcloth called tangkulo, made with the pelangi technique.  Only priestesses were allowed to do the pelangi work under the protection of the diety Bait Pandi, a female spirit who is the guardian of looms and weavers and taught women to weave.  Tangkulo were made of abaca or cotton ..., but nearly all examples that remain in museum collections today are made of cotton trade cloth, which the Bagobo obtained from Chinese traders.  The pattern was tied into the cloth using waxed abaca threads, and the cloth was then dyed with morinda.  In the finished cloth the motifs stand out in white against the red-brown background.  The cloth is usually finished with a border of white glass beads and sometimes tiny pom-poms.
    "The pelangi motifs consist almost entirely of small circles, with a slightly larger motif at the center that the Bagobo call 'moon' (bulan-bulan).  It is the arrangement of the small circles over the surface of the cloth that makes up the design.  Each cloth is unique, but the design is always based on some variant of an X, running diagonally from corner to corner.  ...[T]he Bagobo considered the pattern on the tangkulo to be a crocodile pattern.  Some cloths offer clearly representational crocodile figures, while others are considerably more abstract." [references omitted]

* Hall 1916 online
"A somewhat different mode of reserving a design—on finished cloth—is that used by the makers of the magani’s head-kerchief. This branch of the weaving industry is a specialty of the mabalian or shamaness. The kerchief is woven of cotton thread procured from Chinese traders. It is dyed a dark reddish-brown, after portions of the cloth have been reserved by being caught up and closely overtied with hemp fibre. When the fibres are removed an elaborate pattern outlined in small white rings appears against the red background.
    "The magani wear suits of hemp cloth dyed a dark red—blood color. A man who has killed two persons becomes, by that act, a magani, and is entitled to wear the kerchief. When he has killed four, he may assume trousers of blood color; and the taking of six lives gives him the right to a complete blood-red suit. The mabalian, on account of their ability to weave and dye the magani’s head-kerchief, are under the special protection of the patron spirit of weavers, and are the only people besides the magani who are allowed to wear garments of linumbus, the blood-red cloth. At any rate, the wearing of this cloth was formerly so restricted, but it seems that the privilege is now extended to other women of rank and to the young sons of chiefs.
    "The dress of the men consists of a short tightly-fitting jacket, open in front, and very short tight trunks. The women’s jackets are similar in shape to those of the men, but they are closed in front so that they have to be slipped on over the head. The women wear also a tube skirt, of the same width throughout, like a sack. The jackets of both men and women are richly ornamented with shell discs, glass beads or embroidery. The men wear a kerchief, folded and tied, on their heads; a woman’s coiffure is embellished with bead-incrusted combs cut out of wood, from which hang heavy festoons of beads."

* Maxwell 2014 p10?
"For men in such societies, status was originally achieved through prowess in warfare and this was recognized and displayed by the wearing of special costume.  The Bagobo and Kulaman of Mindanao also had certain items of apparel -- stitch-resist jackets and pants, and tie-dyed headcloths in rich red-brown blood colours -- that were only worn by warriors who had taken an enemy head."






* Hall 1916 online (stating "knives" but probably referring to short swords in context)
"The principal weapons of the Bagobo warrior are spear and knife. There are several forms of both weapons in the collection; the knives including several fine examples of the typical Malay kris. ...  An attack begins with the hurling of spears. This is, however, merely a preliminary to the real combat, which is carried on at close quarters with the knife".




* Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology > Pacific Islands Hall
"[....] Although heavily ornamented, these knives are used as everyday work knives." ...


​* Menez 2004 online
"The Bagobo are among the most highly ornamented indigenous peoples. The men are smiths and casters of copper and brass, crafting small metal bells to decorate their clothing, weapons, bracelets, and betel boxes. Bagobo women are skilled weavers of reed baskets and hemp cloth. They also sew, embroider, applique and bead all the clothing of the family, and a few of them specialize in tie-dying the kerchiefs of warriors. Their abaca fabrics are so beautiful that a myth-chanter, referring to the Bagobo golden age, was moved to recite: Textiles of gold covered the sharp blades/ of the fresh-growing meadow grass/ like a covering of dry leaves/ and the blades of grass were points of rare embroidery.
    "Bagobo personal decorations tend to excess, although Bagobo reciters of myths probably exaggerate slightly when they describe a heroine who puts on nine skirts, one on top of another, and a chain of brass links encircling her waist a thousand times, and who carries on her left shoulder “a small beaded basket decorated with row upon row of little tingkling [sic] bells, a million in all, and each bell as round as a pea.” The poets use the magical number 9 in referring to the layers of hemp trousers and beaded jackets worn by their hero. The 'Divine man at the source of the waters' epitomizes goodness and purity as an artist, healer, lover and warrior. His gongs and antique jars signify his wealth, as do his fields of hemp and coconut groves. He possesses beads and gold necklaces, hair ornaments of dyed goat’s hair and bird’s down, finger-rings and legbands of twisted wire hung with bells. His ear plugs of pure ivory gleam 'like two big moons'."

* Hall 1916 online
"Both men and women wear ear-plugs connected under the chin by numerous varicolored strings of beads. Men who can afford it have their ear-plugs made of ivory imported from Borneo. Chains and strings and woven bands of beadwork hang in great profusion about the necks of both men and women. The large fiat carrying-bags worn by men on their backs and the small trinket-baskets of the women are elaborately ornamented with beadwork also. The effect of the costume with its wealth of brightly colored ornament is strikingly picturesque, and must form, with its wearer, an ensemble admirably in keeping with the tropical conditions of atmosphere and landscape and illumination.
    "Arms and legs are laden with bracelets and bangles of brass, of shell, of cunningly woven vegetable tendrils and fibres. The art of brass founding, and of casting by the tire perdue process, has evidently been learnt from the Moros, as is shown especially by the examples of brass betel boxes in the collection."