Barangay: Visayas Physical Appearance 1

junjimalaza's picture

The color of the Visayans as described by the Spaniards vary, it depends on who was writing it. Some say that the Boholanos were braver than any of the Visayans and much lighter in color, some said otherwise.  But in general we get the point that the color is actually brown. Some are darker because of the exposure to sun.

Body Decoration

The Visayans back then had tatoo all over their body and dental decorations. Like the lizards or the water monitor that we commonly call "Halo" they too have decorations on their skin. These tatoo tells the tale of ones accomplishments in battle, call it their medal back then.

The image below is a typical look of a Visayan, of which some may have seen in other sites as well.


The tatooing starts from the ankles and go up. This image is from the Boxer Codex.

Tatooing is called 'patik', 'batuk' the Visayans were tatooed all over which is why the Spaniards called them 'pintados' or painted people because of this. Tatooing is a symbol of valor in combat, call it an equivalent to today's military medals. Those who sported tatoos and have not been into battle were ridiculed and called a counterfeit. Guys with tatoos, who are cowardly or easily scared, are called a 'halo'(water monitor), because just like these lizards they run away from people.

Warfare was seen as an initiation rite into manhood.

The head dress they call as "pudong", these guys above have a reddish or orange like color, I'd probably say they are red. This is usually worn by men who have killed in combat, they are added in length everytime they achieve additional kills.

The G-string is called a 'bahag'.

Ancient Visayans had their teeth filed and dyed. The objective was to be different from the animals, because they believed that only the animals have white teeth and fangs. After the teeth are filed and leveled, they had them dyed usually a black color. What makes it more beautiful is the gold work on the teeth. When a Visayan smiles, the contrast of the color makes the gold the highlight of his teeth. Imagine teeth with gold crowns, incisors pegged with gold. This has got to be tempting for the Spaniards, even their teeth were decorated with gold.

Talking about gold, now this reminds me of a guy I met once, when we talked about how the ancients looked like, it angered him. He was pissed off at what happened to his ancestors who bartered gold coins(they were more like gold pellets), for glass beads. Imagine the disparity in that.

The fingernails were also colored to a deep red, the effect of habitual betel nut chewing.

In general the Visayans wore their hair long, those who have short hair were either in mourning or punished.

MORE on tatoos next...


These are some of the contents on the book Barangay by William Henry Scott