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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 10.12: 19th Century French Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Jean Mallat was a French physician, explorer, diplomat and author that made three voyages to the Philippines. He is best known for his three volume work Les Philippines: Histoire, Géographie, Mœurs, Agriculture, Industrie, et Commerce des Colonies Espagnoles dans l’Océanie, published in 1846. This brilliantly documented the people he encountered and how they dressed during his travels around the archipelago.

Indiens Tagales Pilant du Riz [Native Tagalogs Pounding Rice], 1846, by Mallat, Bayot and Lemercier - showing a man in Barong Tagalog and woman in baro’t saya

The illustration here, from Les Philippines, is titled Indiens Tagales Pilant du Riz [Native Tagalogs Pounding Rice], 1846. Mallat, Bayot and Lemercier are credited as authors of this work.

Here a Tagalog couple pound rice with wood clubs in a wooden container outside a home by the sea. This was an activity often seen in Philippine life in those times since rice was a central part of the diet, and people used these methods to extract rice grains from husks.

The couple are dressed in common everyday work attire. The man wears a striped work Barong Tagalog with the sleeves rolled up, blue cropped wide leg work pants with one leg bottom folded and a straw hat for protection from the sun. The woman wears a full baro’t saya (blouse and skirt) outfit with tapis (over skirt) and an untied pañuelo (kerchief worn over shoulders).