Culture & Artisans


Jewellery: The art of Temwell

Tboli brass jewellery is one of many Indigenous art forms that tell the vibrant story of the Tboli peoples of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato in Mindanao, Philippines. The indigenous Tboli community of Lake Sebu is distinguished by their vibrant traditional attire and intricate brass adornments. Largely untouched by the Western world, the Tboli people for centuries have lived off the land and used traditional brass making methods to create stunning metals. Temwel begins with material gathering. Traditionally and historically, the Tau Temwel gets his brass from broken gongs he traded with other ethnolinguistic groups from neighbouring towns. These days, the Tau Temwel keeps his brass and other metal upcycling tradition by combing junk shops and buying whatever he can use. Apart from the metals, clay is also dug and mixed with ash and rice husk for molding. Beeswax, which can also be substituted with other types of wax is used for modeling designs.  

Around the tranquil waters of Lake Sebu are pockets of communities where indigenous art still thrives. The art of brass-casting, beading, and weaving still exist because of the Tboli families who continuously work together to keep these traditions alive. The kebeng (hearth) is still fired up and the metals are still melted in the Blunto household. Coming from a long line of Tau Temwel (brass-casters), Joel Blunto works alongside his wife Henia, who also learned the art through his family. Armed with their dream to manage their own business and help other households in the community, they created the first Sesotunawa brass items. Inspired by this vision, people outside Lake Sebu started to come together to share this dream, which also encouraged other artisans in Lake Sebu to become a part of the growing community of culture movers. Today, their artisan community has grown to a total of 9 Tau Temwel and 2 beaders.

For each piece, Tboli artisans start with beeswax and form it into their desired design. Clay is formed around the beeswax to create a mold, then dried in the sun. Recycled church bells and other materials sourced from neighbouring communities are melted down over an open flame and poured into the mould. Once dried, the clay mould is cracked open to reveal the brass jewellery inside. Brass making not only provides sustainable livelihoods for the Tboli people but helps preserve this age-old craft for generations to come.  

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Anthill Fabrics: Traditional weaves

We have partnered with Anthill Fabrics to create the scrunchie bags. Fabrics are woven by two communities in the Philippines. The Daraghuyan Bukdinon Community is one of the seven tribes of the Bukidnon Tribe. Weaving is seen as sacred gift for the community that is bestowed among the tribal women only. The patterns and colour inspiration appear in the form of dreams. Daraghuyan only weaves using natural fibres called abaca and natural dyes from indigenous plants with some combination of commercial dyes to archive an array of vibrant hues.

The Hablon ni Lauriana community were established in Argao, Cebu started with four weavers. They were originally known for their polyhemp and kinarnero weaves. The community grew up to 15 weavers when they became ANTHILL's direct partner back in 2018. Since then, the community has become ANTHILL’s Center for Research and Textile Innovation where weavers are able to learn new weaving techniques and create zero waste fabrics upcyled from fabric scraps as part of our efforts to reduce waste and practice circularity in fashion.

Coming soon