Books & Art

These Antique Postcards Beautifully Depict 1840s Filipino Fashion

Created by renowned painters Justiniano Asuncion and Jose Honorato Lozano, they were popular souvenirs for tourists in Manila.
ILLUSTRATOR JUSTINIANO ASUNCION
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While we work from home in our well-worn t-shirts and shorts, these 19th century postcards or tipos del pais show that our ancestors were considerably more stylish. The phrase tipos del pais roughly translates to “people of the country,” and works of art in this genre depicted Filipinos from different social classes in their typical everyday attire.

La Yndia del Campo tiendera by Justiniano Asuncion

Photo by Justiniano Asuncion.

 

Filipino Peasant with coat & salacot by Justiniano Asuncion

 

Photo by Justiniano Asuncion.
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La Mestisa Española by Justiniano Asuncion

Photo by Justiniano Asuncion.


They served as popular souvenirs for foreigners who traveled to the Philippines on business. Leon Gallery states that they were also published in Spanish periodicals like El Oriente. Today, they are precious works of art sold at auction houses for hundreds of thousands—and sometimes even millions—of pesos.

This genre was pioneered by Damian Domingo, who is often called “the father of Filipino painting.” According to Luciano P.R. Santiago, he was commissioned by Indian textile dealer Raphael Daniel Baboom to create illustrations of his collection of Filipino costumes from all over the archipelago. After Domingo passed away, his student Justiniano Asuncion carried on with his work.

Filipino Peasant with coat & salacot by Justiniano Asuncion

 

Photo by Justiniano Asuncion.
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La Yndia del Campo Tendedora by Justiniano Asuncion

Photo by Justiniano Asuncion.

Asuncion became a famous painter in his own right, producing an album of tipos del pais that portrayed Filipino fashion in the 1840s. In fact, Emmanuel Besa calls him “one of the leading painters of the 19th century” in his book Tales of Intramuros. “This album attests to [Asuncion’s] mastery of water color in drawing the minutest details,” he writes.

El Mestiso by Justiniano Asuncion

Photo by Justiniano Asuncion.
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La Mestisa by Justiniano Asuncion

Photo by Justiniano Asuncion.

Jose Honorato Lozano may be better known for his letras y figuraspaintings that spell out the names of patrons using figures of people, set against the backdrop of Manila. But he was also a prolific painter of tipos del pais.

Chino Comerciante & India de Manila by Jose Honorato Lozano

 

Photo by Jose Honorato Lozano.
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Cuadrillero by Jose Honorato Lozano

 

Photo by Jose Honorato Lozano.

India A Caballo by Jose Honorato Lozano

 

Photo by Jose Honorato Lozano.

Indio A Caballo by Jose Honorato Lozano

Photo by Jose Honorato Lozano.
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Leon Gallery describes Lozano as “the principal visual chronicler of 19th century Philippines.” Spanish journalist Raphael Diaz Arenas was all praises as well, hailing Lozano as “a watercolorist without rival” in his 1850 book, Historical and Statistical Accounts of the Philippines.

 India de Manila by Jose Honorato Lozano

Photo by Jose Honorato Lozano.

Indios by Jose Honorato Lozano

Photo by Jose Honorato Lozano.
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Beautifully rendered in vivid colors, these tipos del pais may have started out as simple souvenirs. But today these works of art give us a glimpse of a time long past.

 Un Yndio natural by Jose Honorato Lozano

Photo by Jose Honorato Lozano.

Sources:

Besa, Emmanuel. (2017). Tales of Intramuros. Lulu.

Christie’s. (2015). José Honorato Lozano (1821-1885). Retrieved from https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-5935371 on June 28, 2021.

Clark, John. (2017). Colonial Art as a Space of the Asian Modern. In Sze Wee, Low & Flores, Patrick (Eds.), Charting Thoughts: Essays on Art in Southeast Asia (pp. 44-59). National Gallery Singapore.

Geringer Art. (2021). Damian Domingo. Retrieved from https://www.geringerart.com/artists/damian-domingo/ on June 28, 2021.

Leon Gallery. (2014). 107. Retrieved from https://leon-gallery.com/auctions/lot/The-Glorious-Easter-Auction-2014/107/33 on June 28, 2021.

Leon Gallery. (2015). 7. Retrieved from https://leon-gallery.com/auctions/lot/The-Magnificent-September-Auction-2015/7/26 on June 28, 2021.

Leon Gallery. (2016). 66. Retrieved from https://leon-gallery.com/auctions/lot/The-Magnificent-September-Auction-2016/66/21 on June 28, 2021.

Leon Gallery. (2019) 56. Retrieved from https://leon-gallery.com/auctions/lot/The-Kingly-Treasures-Auction-2019/56/40 on June 28, 2021.

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Rodell, Paul. (2002). Culture and Customs of the Philippines. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Santiago, Luciano. (1991). Damian Domingo and the First Philippine Art Academy (1821-1834). Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, 19(4), 264-280. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/29792065

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