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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 15.1: 19th Century German Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

The Prussian Expedition to East Asia, also known as the Eulenberg Expedition, was the voyage of a fleet of German ships led by Count Friedrich Albrecht zu Eulenberg, a Prussian diplomat and politician. The journey started in 1859 and ended in 1861, and its purpose was to establish diplomatic and commercial relations with Japan, China and Thailand. Scientific explorations also took place during this expedition, and the ships also visited Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Several participants in this voyage published their own accounts of this expedition. Gustav Spiess, the Merchant Delegate of Saxony, published his version with over one hundred woodcut illustrations.

Spiess’ illustrations covering the Philippines are very similar to illustrations of the Philippines published by English artist Charles W. Andrews just a few years earlier. We cover C. W. Andrews in part 11 of this addendum.

Gustav Spiess - Tagalen auf der Insel Luzon - Tagalog men in barongs and woman in baro't saya fishing on Luzon

The first illustration here is Spiess’ Tagalen auf der Insel Luzon [Tagalogs on the Island of Luzon] (1864). In the foreground, there are three Tagalog men and one woman. The woman appears to be hunched over catching fish in a net and smoking a cigarillo with her male companions around her. There are three men towards the left in the background carrying away a large container likely with the day’s catch in it.

All the men in this picture wear rolled up work knickers and either straw western hats or salakot (wide brimmed native headwear) on their heads for protection from the sun and rain. The two men to the right wear color dyed work barongs with their sleeves rolled up. The woman wears baro’t saya (shirt and skirt), a tapis (overskirt) and a putong (head cloth).

CW Andrews - Tagalog men in barongs and woman in baro't saya fishing on Luzon

The second illustration is C. W. Andrews’ version dated 1861. Spiess’ piece is an almost identical copy of Andrews’ piece. The men and woman in this picture are dressed the same as in the first picture.