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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 10.15: 19th Century French Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Métis de la haute classe en promenade, 1846, by Jean Mallat - upper class man in barong and woman in baro't saya both on horses

The illustration here is titled Métis de la haute classe en promenade [Mestizos of the upper class promenading], 1846, from the Jean Mallat book Les Philippines: Histoire, Géographie, Mœurs, Agriculture, Industrie, et Commerce des Colonies Espagnoles dans l’Océanie. Mallat, Bayot and Lemercier are credited as authors of this drawing. A description of Mallat and Les Philippines is in our previous installment Part 10.12.


In this drawing, a mestizo (mixed blood) couple each ride on horseback fully dressed in fancy, colorful and expensive clothing and accessories. The horses are even adorned in saddles and saddle blankets fit for a royal procession. The title of this piece by definition says this couple is riding around to be seen and to show off their class and wealth.

The man appears to be calmly riding along. He wears a natural color translucent Barong Tagalog, possibly made of piña fabric, with embroidery around the front opening, a precious stone as the top button, French cuffs with lace, and a standing Elizabethan collar. He wears a matching top hat, striped red and yellow pants and a red beaded necklace probably made of precious stones.

The woman is looking straight at the viewer, sitting and posing to face the viewer in a seemingly unnatural way while riding to probably show off what she is wearing. She wears a long sleeve striped baro (top) with lace French cuffs, a long green windowpane saya (skirt), a red striped tapis (overskirt), an embroidered translucent pañuelo (shawl) possibly made of piña, a yellow hat with feathers, flowers, and an embroidered lace mantilla (veil) hanging from the back. She also wears gold earrings, a red beaded necklace with gold pendant and slippers.

All of the embroidery depicted on these clothes and accessories was done by hand, and many of these items shown are likely imported. Also the man’s barong is what we would consider a traditional formal barong today.