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Easter Weaving Room History

Almost a century ago, as missionary trekked the trails of Igorot land in Northern Philippines, fearful of headhundters and wild animals yet intrigued by the sounds of the beating of the gongs and the twittering of the birds which punctuated the crisp serenity of the mountain villages, little did he know that a traditional way of life which soon fascinated him would, in a few decades, capture the fondness and hearts of the Western world and eventually the rest of the world – hand weaving!

The Rt. Rev. Charles Henry Brent of the Episcopal church in the United States founded in 1906 Easter School in Baguio City. To this little church-school hundreds of kilometers away from their homes, children from Bontoc were transported to receive education, with them, especially the girls brought with them their skill - the beautiful traditional art of weaving which a lady Missionary, Deaconess Hargreaves, ensured would neither be lost nor forgotten.

From this little room where weaving classes were held to preserve weaving as a traditional art emerged placemats, table napkins, tablecloths, and the like which became the most perfect gifts for missionary, military, and business friends and families across the seas. The usual native designs, the intricate handwork, and the tested quality truly reflective of the practical and enduring character of the mountain people eventually catapulted the unsuspecting source, “the Easter School Weaving Room," to a prominence that remained unsurpassed for generations. “Quality Handwoven Products” was the byword.

World War II did not deter the classes and the production of these mush sought-after home products. From a ball of thread which was salvaged from the ruins of the war, classes for the girls were restarted and the weaving room was re-established. The increasing demand for the reputable products, however, soon necessitated the establishment of the industry.

Today, the Easter Weaving Room continues to preserve the Cordillera culture, particularly the weaving heritage, by serving as an instrument in promoting native handicrafts and providing a home for the enhancement of indigenous Igorot skills.

The room is now a humble building designed to house several upright looms and back-strap looms manned by women who have developed expert knowledge and mastery of the techniques, materials, and designs of Cordillera weaving. Countless tourists and visitors continue to patronize the Weaving Room, and they are constantly mesmerized by the intertwining of rainbow-arrayed threads. They are amazed as Igorot hands daintily and expertly play along with these threads to produce the products that have made the Easter Weaving Room internationally renowned. Having a firsthand view and idea of the weaving process truly enhances each visitors’ appreciation and awe for this native art and skill.

In response to requests and demands over the recent years, the Easter Weaving Room also offers a wide array of other handicrafts which include woodcarvings, rattan and paper baskets or bags, shell and coconut decors, local oil paintings, Ilokano and Yakan weaving, as well as some local food delicacies.

The growth and influence of the Easter Weaving Room remains evident in homes not only in the Philippines but also Countries all throughout the world – United States, Japan, Guam, Italy, China, Saudi Arabia, Germany and others.

Yes, the Easter Weaving Room and quality Cordillera Weaving will continue to remain synonymous in response to the needs and preferences of its patrons and the weaving tradition shall be preserved and sustained for generations.

 


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