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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 10.17: 19th Century French Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Métis Espagnols en Costume de Promenade, 1846, from Jean Mallat - showing woman in baro't saya and man in Barong Tagalog

The illustration here is titled Métis Espagnols en Costume de Promenade [Spanish Mestizos in Walking Clothes], 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.

This woman and man of mixed Spanish blood are drawn standing in the middle of town in clothing they usually walk around in, which appears fancier and flashier than an average person would consider leisurely or everyday clothing. This couple’s clothing shows off their upper class status and their desire for attention.

The woman wears a red, white and blue striped baro (top) with French cuffs covered by a translucent pañuelo (shawl) with lace edges and a gold button closure. She also wears a long red and orange plaid saya (skirt), gold slippers, gold earrings, and a gold crown. She holds fruit in her right hand with a white lace mantilla (scarf) draped on her right arm. The style of her clothing and lack of tapis (overskirt) seem to reflect more European influence and less Filipino tradition.

The man wears a long red textured stripe Barong Tagalog that extends to the knees, has a standing Elizabethan collar with lace edges, French cuffs, and sleeve garters on the upper arms, which were commonly used in the 19th century. He also wears green textured stripe pants with wide legs, multicolor slippers, and an ivory top hat. He carries a purple umbrella with matching white and purple handkerchief. The length of the man’s Barong Tagalog shows the history and foreign influence on this garment.

Most if not all of the clothing and accessories shown here are either imported or made of imported materials from the Manila Galleon Trade. Being upper class Spanish mestizos, this couple probably keep abreast of and wear the latest fashions from Europe from being around Spaniards and/or traveling to Europe.