Okir refers to the Maranao design in their carving, weaving and metal works. It comes from the word “okkil,” which means “to carve. ” It can be seen in the colorful malong woven by the Maranao and in the old houses or torogans of datus and sultans of Lanao, Mindanao. Maranao Maranao are the graceful “people of the lake”, living on the northern edge of Lake Lanao. They are Mindanao’s last group to be converted to Islam.
Maranao ArtOkir or okkil refers to the ranfe of folk motifs, usually of plants and geometric forms, that are prominent in Maranao art work. The oldest proof of okir’s flowering is the torogan, the ancestral home of the highest titleholder in a Maranao village. The torongan is a symbol of rank abd prestige and is reserved for important celebrations and political events. It stands out architecturally in the community because if its panolong – a carved beam that protrudes in the front of the house and is adorned with okir motif.Aside from plan and vegetable forms, the panalong has come to be dominated by the nafa or sepent motif. The malong, woven Maranao cloth, also bears various okir designs. In fact, the geometric and plant designs on the vertical strips of the malong indicate the wearer’s village of origin.
Brass and metal works, from the fuctional betel-nut boxes to musical instruments, always carry these designs as well. A more distinctive variation is the sarimanok, a chickenlike figure that carries a fish in its beak.