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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 17.1: 19th Century Russian Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Ludovik Choris was a German-Russian painter and explorer that lived from 1795-1828. Choris’ artistic ability was recognized very early on by the Russian government as he was invited to serve as the artist on two Russian expeditions for scientific exploration. Choris is considered one of the first sketch artists for expedition research.

He was only a teenager during his first voyage where he created botanical art. In 1815, he was chosen for a scientific expedition that took place over the course of three years and circumnavigated the globe.

This second voyage, commanded by Otto von Kotzebue and sponsored by Count Romanzoff, visited South America, North America, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, South Africa and London.

Choris - Vue de la Ville de Manille (Iles Philippines) - 5 men in Barong Tagalog rowing in bangka

The illustration above is titled Vue de la Ville de Manille (Iles Philippines) [View of the City of Manila (Philippine Islands)] published in Paris, France in 1826. This piece was created by Choris during the Romanzoff expedition (1815-1818).

Choris - Vue de la Ville de Manille (Iles Philippines) - closeup of 5 men in barongs rowing in bangka

The second image above is a closer look at the subjects in the foreground - five men rowing in the sea on a bangka or canoe. They each wear a striped Barong Tagalog. A few wear a salakot (wide brimmed helmet-like native headwear) on their heads for protection from the sun and rain. In the background are larger ships with their sails up, the walled city of Manila and mountains.