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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 10.7: 19th Century French Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Grégoire Louis Domeny de Rienzi was a French geographer that published images from the travels of other explorers and discoverers in his series called L’Univers, Histoire et Description de tous les Peuples (The Universe, History and Description of All Peoples) in 1836. This was intended to be an inexpensive geographic book. Like Dumont d’Urville, whom we covered previously, Domeny de Rienzi took illustrations from other voyagers’ original publications and had them re-engraved in steel on a smaller scale for printing in his own books.

The Philippines was covered in detail in Océanie ou Cinquième Partie du Monde (Oceania or the Fifth Part of the World), which was part of the L’Universe series. This was a widely distributed and read encyclopedia. The compilation of voyages was so popular, it was translated into other European languages with the German edition being the most widely circulated among them.

Tagales de l’Ile de Louçon et Jeune Montagarde Aeta, 1836, shows Tagalog man in a Barong Tagalog and Tagalog and Aeta women in baro't saya

The illustration we cover here is titled Tagales de l’Ile de Louçon et Jeune Montagarde Aeta (Tagals of Luzon Island and Young Aeta Highlander), 1836. This drawing was engraved on steel by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Victor Marie Felix Danvin.

The Tagalog man on the left wears a translucent Barong Tagalog with high victorian collar, a long sleeve camisa de chino underneath, dark wide leg ("saya saya") trousers with gold detailing at the bottom hems, fancy slippers (possibly made of metal or wood) with bare feet, an adorned salakot on his head, and he carries a cane (probably to show status).

The Tagalog woman in the center wears a baro’t saya with what appears to be a tapis draped around the skirt unusually, slippers with heels (possibly made of metal or wood), and she carries an umbrella made of bamboo or another wood.

The young Aeta woman at the right wears a baro’t saya in what appears to be an indigenous weaving pattern and a tapis worn similarly to the Tagalog woman.