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

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

by Bucklee Bell

Brass And Wooden Ornaments



The heaviest piece of jewelry worn and made by the T'boli is a brass belt, the hilot. The belt I bought weighs 5.2 pounds (2.4 kg). Moreno (1995: 99) pictures one twice as heavy, describing it as a "girdle of brass chain link and bells." According to Ramon Mann, royalty and rich people wear many bracelets or anklets like these up their arms and legs during festivals.

This belt along with brass bracelets are commonly worn at festivals. Mack (1988: 109-10) states, "some T'boli bracelets are, for instance, furnished with ball-bearings that make a sound as the wearer walks, and the bells that are hung from the distinctive brass or beaded belts signal the approach of a young woman eligible for marriage." [Casal 1977: 736 describes several types of bracelets and anklets.]

Another common ornament is the swat henafak. It's a wooden comb with inlaid mirrors with strings of seed beads hanging from it, worn toward the back of the head (see here). Three wound brass wire top pieces represent bird wings according to Ramon Mann. The T'boli also make small wooden combs decorated with brass wire wound on parts of it (left).


 Foreword by Pete Francis


The Lieg Heirloom Necklace

Brass and Wooden Ornaments

T'boli Beadwork

Beaded Ornaments



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