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Southeast Asian Bead Circle Newsletter Vol. 1, No.2 page 3

Beaded Dresses and Ornaments of T'boli Women of Mindanao, the Philippines

by Bucklee Bell

The Lieg

The most valuable piece of T'boli jewelry by far is the lieg. This necklace was the most common jewelry I saw worn around Lake Sebu. Lieg have been described (Francis 1992: 8) as, "currently worth a horse, but even at this price, are rarely sold for fear of sickening and dying." I don't know about dying, but a single strand (below) was offered to me for US$ 1,000; the current going price for a horse is $800.

Liegs of several strands of glass beads, brass bells, chains and gold or brass interlocking beads would fetch many times this price. The brass dangles of chains and bells are worn on the side of the necklace, not at the bottom.

The better liegs I saw all seem to be composed of Venetian and Czech glass beads (two views below) with two small Conus shell top discs at the juncture where the brass dangles hang. I explained to the T'boli dealers that I couldn't pay even half of their $1,000 asking price when I can get a nice strand of 19th century "skunk" [the black spotted beads] or other fancy Venetian or Czech beads from African dealers for $200-$300.

Faceted Czech glass and black Venetian lamp-wound beads.

None are older than ca. 1850; most are much newer.

I purchased a strand very cheaply because most of the beads are plastic.
The spotted black bead left of center is a Venetian glass bead.
The others are local plastic imitations.

 Above the dangles on the left is a genuine Conus shell disc.
The one on the right is a plastic copy.

Every lieg I saw had at least one of these Conus shell top discs and several inches of the gold or brass interlocking beads. Ramon Mann said the lieg is properly called a liegkemagi.. The brass chain and bells [and plastic beads] are made by the T'boli themselves and the interlocking metal beads are made by the neighboring Tiruray.

Foreword by Pete Francis


Brass and Wooden Ornaments

T'boli Beadwork

Beaded Ornaments



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