Born 1975 in La Trinidad, Benguet
Lives and works in La Trinidad, Benguet
Sultan Mang-osan’s first solo presentation ruminates on the handmade crafts of Cordilleran basketry and woven textile as everyday objects. He attempts to respond to the reclamation of these objects from the valuations they are accorded as museum displays and souvenirs. It lends to a larger view regarding these objects as they once were, in domestic indigenous ecologies, in subsistence economies, or in sustainable resource use. At present, these indigenous functional material cultures have been
relegated to ornamental curiosities or substandard souvenirs with the introduction of mass-produced
and plastic household objects and clothes. Around this reckless plasticity for convenient factory
products, the woven objects are used less and less as they traditionally have been in communities in the
In reclaiming and continuing traditional craft, Sultan learned rattan weaving while living in Benguet, as
did his father, and his late mother with backstrap loom weaving. He traces his ethnolinguistic history to the Bontok and Kankanaey of Mountain Province but was born and raised in Benguet. In 2015, he began meticulously painting textiles, rattan objects, and traditional musical instruments on canvas. The process starts with a few layers of underpainting before he moves on to the more tedious task of layering the weave patterns. Most times, the paintings take longer to make than the actual objects. But he is not new to this practice. He has been making pointillist figurative pen and ink drawings, including portraits of indigenous persons since 2005. Although self-taught, he began as an assistant to his brother, the artist Jordan Mang-osan who specializes in pyrography and “solar” drawing, before quickly taking on pen and ink at which point he was mentored by painter Roland Bay-an.
In this new series of works made for over an entire year during the lockdown, some of Sultan’s paintings are rendered from stock photographs of objects worn by random people he took snapshots of in the streets when he went about his rounds as barangay tanod (community watchman). Alternatively, others are endearingly referenced from hats or bags that his father or he himself wove from rattan. In making the details of the pieces, he goes into long meditative hours of repetitively painting minuscule lines, harking back to ancestral rhythms of craft making—whether a thread a time on the warp of a loom, or a stone a time on a rice terrace wall. The painted objects are rudimentary in forms and contours but are always
intricate: a kayabang (bamboo basket) sits on a shelf with its robust close cane pattern taking up most of the painting, while in another, a sangi (rattan backpack) sits in the middle, overwhelmed by a thick border of finely painted woven rattan, much like an illuminated manuscript. The way the objects are composed allude to suspicious randomness, an assuredness of place, and a vulnerability of meaning.
They reveal where you should find them, genuinely-placed in an Igorot home. (Rocky Cajigan)_______________
Binali is a local term for fine rattan weaving