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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 18.16: Un Indio Noble de Manila by Damián Domingo

Damián Domingo - Un Indio Noble de Manila - Native Tagalog man municipal leader in Barong Tagalog with jacket over it

This tipos del pais (“types of the country”, native dress) painting by Damián Domingo is titled Un Indio Noble de Manila [A Native Noble Man from Manila]. The date of this piece is not known, but it is likely from the 19th century around the time of the previous paintings we covered - 1833. Our descriptions of Domingo and tipos del pais paintings are in our previous installment 18.1.

Very much like Domingo’s Baboom collection of tipos del pais pieces we have covered, this is also a full body portrait of a person in the Philippines meant to be sold to Ilustrado collectors and foreign tourists in the Philippines.

The way that the man in this painting is dressed indicates he is a man of the principalia class, the noble class of rich native people working for and in conjunction with the Spanish empire as leaders of the local municipal governments.

This man wears an untucked Barong Tagalog with a neckerchief and a jacket over it. Spanish edict said that natives had to wear their shirts untucked, and it also gave the principales (members of the principalia class) the distinct privilege of being able to wear jackets over their barongs.

The other clothing and accessories of principales also signaled their wealth and power. Since many of them traveled to and were educated in Europe, they often adopted the latest styles and bought the most expensive fabrics and accessories from Europe and the West through the Galleon Trade.

The subject here wears wide leg saya saya pants made of silk that are ornately embroidered at the bottoms. His hat was styled in and made in West. The cane or staff he carries is also a sign of authority.

The man also wears embroidered slippers possibly made of velvet. He carries a handkerchief in his left hand to dab his excess perspiration from the tropical climate and his warm and impractical outfit. Impracticality aside, these outfits were meant to be shown off and to get people’s attention.