Tuesday, September 18, 2018


A Bill of Sale at a Guam store in 1902

What did mama buy over a hundred years ago?

"Stores" as we know them today did not exist in the Marianas for most of the Spanish period which lasted around 230 years. The missionary priests handed out many things in the beginning, and then the Spanish Governor controlled the sale of imported goods for many years after that.

By the 1800s, though, more foreign ships were making trips to the Marianas for various reasons. Some of them brought things to sell. Towards the end of the 1800s, some individuals sold imported merchandise from their homes. Right as Spanish rule was ending, the Japanese expanded their commercial activity in the Marianas, opening small stores in Guam and Saipan. Under the US Navy, foreign and then Chamorro entrepreneurs established modern stores on Guam. The Northern Marianas became very active in commerce, almost all controlled by the Japanese.

Fabric was one item always in demand in the Marianas. Our islands weren't able to supply the need for fabric. Spanish Governors, at times, even paid the soldiers and government clerks in fabric rather than in money.

In this Bill of Sale at a Japanese-owned store on Guam in 1902, we see the following fabrics being sold to a Chamorro customer :

Caranclan. This fabric was known as gingham in English-speaking places.


Gingham, or caranclan, was popular among the women who made their skirts with caranclan. Look at this photo of a Chamorro woman wearing the mestiza dress using caranclan.

Cambray. Among those who speak English, this fabric is called chambray. This was a thicker fabric, and would be used for trousers, for example.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the historical info. I am writing historical fiction novels and short stories.