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Pigaper

DancePigaper
MeaningReferring to fan
Dance CultureLakeshore dwellers
Place of OriginMarawi City
Ethnolinguistic GroupMaranao
ClassificationEntertainment
Background / Content

In the middle of the 16th century Sulu and Borneo had already been the center of trade and commerce in southern Philippines. The Chinese, Cambodians and Middle Eastern merchants came to barter silk, porcelain, brass, lead and iron for fruits, beeswax, pearls, turtle shell, gold and food stuff from the natives.

However, trade and commerce was not confined to major items alone, culture and tradition crept into the exchange network. The vendors and buyers, also visitors and guests rubbed-off as well received a bit of their way of lives.

One seemingly insignificant item, which passed almost unnoticed from the Chinese men to the native women, was the fan. Insignificant as it was, the fans solved warm and humid situations of Chinese men who were used to the cold of their native China. As the fan changed hands it also changed in some very significant way. Not only were they used to refresh, they were also used as props to enhance dancing and other related performances.

Old fans had qualities long sought after. The favorites were those made of sandal-wood,camphor and ivory, while those made of bamboo or poor wood material were least preferred

The Maranao lady was an early fan connoisseur. Though she must have collected a dozen assorted fans, she was not contented nor satisfied with the ribby, flat types. She embellished them with sequins, beads, spangles, coins and even feathers which resulted into a new fan with a total makeover. It was a sin to hide a beautiful prop like this and had to be shown off in a performance using fans. And so the dance pig-apir (also pagapir/kapagaper/kapigapir) came to be.

To the Maranao women, pig-apir is no ordinary dance for not alone does it bring out the woman’s good breeding but her social graces as well. Young maidens are trained to walk between two thin threads stretched close to the floor. In the process of negotiating the threads, she performs a walk called “”kini-kini”” while flaunting two fans. Grace agility, discipline, skill and determination are expected results.

Since the kini-kini is a dance in itself, possessing the typical figures of Maranao dances, particularly the peculiar-walking step, shoulder swing and hip throw, many Maranao dances incorporate the kini-kini.

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