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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 18.6: Un Indio Natural de la Provincia de Pangasinan by Damián Domingo

Damián Domingo - Un Indio Natural de la Provincia de Pangasinan - a man in barong, esclavina and salakot with his horse

The painting here is titled Un Indio Natural de la Provincia de Pangasinan [A Native Inhabitant of the Province of Pangasinan]. This piece is from Damián Domingo’s Baboom collection of tipos del pais (types of the country, native dress) paintings, No. 3 from 1833. Our description of Domingo and the Baboom collection is in our previous installment 18.1.

The male subject stands with his horse on the side of a road. He holds the rein on his horse in his left hand and a smoking pipe in his right hand.

The man is dressed in an untucked white or off-white local version of the Barong Tagalog. Domingo adds gentle shine details to the barong. This could suggest it is made of piña (pineapple leaf fibers), which naturally glows when light hits it. But, the long sleeves are rolled up, and precious and expensive fabrics like piña were not treated or worn in this way. This barong is probably made of a cotton, linen or ramie fabric, and the glow could be explained by the bright white color of the barong reflecting the sun. Piña is also naturally more of a beige or ecru color, not white or off-white.

The man’s pants are wide leg saya saya pants cropped below the knees. The wide leg design ensured good air circulation in the tropical heat, and the blue and black stripes were the current fashion of the time of this painting.

The man wears an esclavina (rain cape) made of nipa leaves on his back and a salakot (wide-brimmed domed native headwear) made of rattan on his head. Both are to protect him from the rain. The salakot also protects him from the sun.

The man also wears a crucifix necklace, indicating he is a Christian, like many other people of his province. This image was painted almost two and a half centuries after the people of Pangasinan had ended their resistance of the initial conversion efforts of Spanish Christian missionaries.