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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 16: a 19th Century Swedish Artist’s Illustration of Life in the Philippines

Skogman - Tagal - A Tagalog man stands with his rooster in Barong Tagalog, salakot, and other filipiñiana clothing and accessories

Carl Johan Alfred Skogman was a Swedish artist, sea surveyor, navy captain, baron and member of parliament that created the illustration here during Sweden’s first circumnavigation of the world on the Frigate Eugenie. This voyage took place from 1851 to 1853, and its purpose was to foster commercial and political relations and perform scientific studies.

Skogman was tasked with the writing of the official account of this journey. He later published a book of his account with color images of what he saw from lithographs he made himself. Two of those lithographs depicted two people he saw in the Philippines on this voyage.

The piece here is one of those lithographs, titled Tagal (published 1854-1855), and it shows the side view of a Tagalog man with his rooster tucked in his arm standing in front of a barrier (possibly of a bridge), houses and trees. He wears a Barong Tagalog with embroidery on the front and lace on the cuffs, wide-legged striped trousers, slippers and a salakot on his head probably made of valuable shiny material. He also carries an open umbrella to shield him and his rooster from the sun.

The man’s clothing is not appropriate for manual labor, which indicates he is likely of the upper classes. His rooster is probably for the sport of cockfighting.