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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 10.5: 19th Century French Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville was a French navigator, explorer, and naval officer that compiled, published and popularized illustrations from his own voyages to Asia and the Pacific and those of other explorers. His publications were widely distributed and translated into many languages. Dumont d’Urville had original artist illustrations from previous voyages reproduced onto small steel engraved plates for mass printing.

  “Hahnenkämpfe” [Cockfights], 1835, by Louis Auguste de Sainson shows a cockfight in the street and Filipino men in Barong Tagalog


Included among Dumont d’Urville’s many published travel albums were drawings from visits to the Philippines. The artwork we feature here is one of them titled “Hahnenkämpfe” [Cockfights], 1835, from one of his German editions. The illustration was originally done by French artist Louis Auguste de Sainson, and the steel plate reproduction was engraved by Dr. A. Diezmann.

This illustration shows the very familiar image of two men fighting their roosters in the street while other men look on. All front-facing men wear everyday work barongs of various colors. These barongs are likely made of durable non-translucent fabric. The man with the rooster on the left wears a top hat and light brown trousers. The man with the rooster on the right wears a salakot (helmet-like native hat), off-white trousers and a neckerchief around the collar of his Barong Tagalog. The spectator in the rear wears a salakot and esclavina (rain cape made of tree branches or leaves), a combination meant to protect someone from the heavy rains that often flooded whole areas.