Discovering horn

March 13, 2008  |  Written by Mae on Featured Products  |  1 Comment  | 

If it would be your first time to visit Cebu in the Philippines, you’d notice many interesting things about this island-province. Aside from its rich historical beginnings, it’s also home to exotic marine resources.

The Philippine water buffaloCebu is known internationally for its unique fashion accessories made from indigenous materials such as  carabao horn, exotic seashells, wood, bone, coco shell, seeds and nuts, and limestone corals.

It was during my last visit to this lovely island-province, that I became fascinated with some unusual pieces I got from a local souvenir shop —a surfer’s necklace with a somewhat talismanic horn pendant. So, I set about to find out about this intriguing piece…

I was told that the horn pendant was made from carabao antlers or horn. (The Philippine water buffalo, a black-skinned mammal also known as carabao, is commonly raised for plowing rice fields, transport, milk, and meat.) I wondered how many water buffaloes were needed to collect enough antlers. I can only imagine  how much patience, skill, and strength it took to transform the raw horns into beautiful art pieces and whatnot’s. (Carabao horns are really dense and harder than cow horn.)

I was able to visit one production site to witness the process of honing carabao horns into jewelry beads and components. I immediately noticed a newly dumped pile of raw horns with other different indigenous materials. Crude tools and machines being were used to cut up, carve, etch, dye, and polish the horn beads. Everything was done rather systematically. Horn beads were then finished with black, golden brown, and other translucent shades.

The whole process was labor-intensive. One would think so much time and energy has been poured into those strands of horn beads reflecting a culture of hard work and ingenuity I’m most proud of, as a Filipino.

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