With the frenzied fascination for all things local, the solihiya weave charms itself from our heritage and history and into heavy rotation in our wardrobe.
Just as ubiquitous as the oversized spoon and fork mounted on the wall by the dining table and the frighteningly creak of the dusty ceiling fan overhead are, nothing quite completes the concept of a textbook Filipino coming together than wood-framed chairs intertwined with an intricate weave in thin strands of locally abundant rattan. Antiquated as it may be, there exists a unique charm to the solihiya weave, a burst of sun-like plait that laces itself into many cultural affectations.
Evoking a warmth and nostalgia that is almost immediately reminiscent of sweat-soaked summer afternoons lazing around the ancestral home with lola, who is most likely already rocking back and forth on her favorite chair facing the expansive capiz shell-lined window, fanning herself in a steady pace and rhythm. Lacing through the scene is the technical yet highly alluring solihiya detail, one that is not only most beautiful to look at, but functional in more ways than one.
Aside from its ergonomic features, being able to hold a considerable amount of weight at a given time, it compels even more thought and physics to it with the air that flows through it as a backrest, making it even more inviting to lounge and lose track of time in. In fact, it even acts as a tell of time by how deep the imprints of the solihiya weave are in your skin. Functional in its support and strength, there lies an inherent poetry to the detail of design, especially with the light and shadow it casts as the sun dips beyond the horizon. The criss-crossing braids have not only fascinated us in this regard, it has also inspired many a creative to perpetuate and integrate the dregs of 19th century Spanish colonial area.
From appealing architectural appurtenances to interior intrusions, it has even manifested itself a lot in fashion as of late, realizing itself in everything from dainty accessories to wistful bags. It is also interesting to note that while it isn’t a direct descendant of the six-way weave, a similar pattern is intrinsic to the longstanding luxury of the Lady Dior collection, which in its every iteration features its iconic Cannage stitching motif. Not to limit itself to just quilting impressions on best-selling accessories, Olivier Rousteing took things further at Balmain and incorporated what appears to be an identical wicker-like intertwining in its Spring/Summer 2013 collection.
Weave The Door Open
Meanwhile on the thriving local front, a lot of designers and brands have been more and more drawn to solihiya weave, producing distinct pieces and full-on collections in its image and likeness. From footwear details to focal points of bags, the weaving technique is not only fascinating, but it is durable. After all, many generations have been supported by the solihiya, literally.
Natural and sustainable, as well as it is, for lack of a better word, pretty to look at and hold, it can be said that the easily recognizable handcrafted solihiya weave is a worthy representative of our vivid and vibrant tapestry of culture beyond the home and architecture, and into mainstream fashion, among many other things. With a rich trove to dip into, the enchantment of all things local no longer has to be shied away from or shunned even. It isn’t just a chair or a figure for exhibition anymore. Now, we can proudly carry our history and heritage as proud as we can, just as lola has done so in her storied past.