Chuliyao is a Kalinga folk story as narrated by Agom Dawing who heard it from her mother and noted down by Maria Cameron. It is about Chuliyao, a farmer, who was constantly wooed by a rat into marrying her. Of course, Chuliyao ignored this. But after some time, Chuliyao agreed in bringing the rat home. While Chuliyao was working the fields, the rat would remove its rat clothes to reveal a beautiful young woman who would in turn clean the house and do the rest of the chores. In time, Chuliyao would suspect that the rat was indeed magical and will try to discover the truth.
This story would be part of a series of children's books (20 stories) that will be used by a school in Dananao in Southern Kalinga - a project initiated by Australian volunteers. It is a lovely story which would be very interesting to illustrate. I thought of using the concept of a magical mask and cape that the beautiful woman wears to become a rat. I patterned the mask to traditional Ifugao/Kalinga tribal ceremonial masks and the cape/coat to look like a straw/fur coat. I wanted to retain the femininity of the beautiful woman in the rat, thus the flowing form of the rat character. Chuliyao the main character would be more angular and geometric in contrast. I was greatly inspired by Eyvind Earle's art (of Disney's Sleeping Beauty) and would like to blend in some of his style into the rice terraced landscapes of Kalinga in this story.
The scene featured in the topmost drawing was inspired from this excerpt:
"The young woman began to cry, and Chuliyao felt pity for her. "Oh, are these what you are looking for?" he said as he revealed the clothes from behind his back.
The woman grabbed at the clothes, but Chuliyao did not let go. She begged him, "Please, please give me my clothes!" and he replied, "I won't give you your clothes unless you marry me! Will you marry me?"
Take note that these are just preliminary and exploratory studies, focusing more on capturing the general theme and feel of the story. The final art might be drastically different from these and I still have to work on the general layout once the specifications of the book are set.