Today I would like to continue talking about the Filipino National Costume of the early 19th cent. by focusing on the women. For general introductory remarks about the Philippines, see my last article.
The Filipino National costume for women is called the baro’t saya, literally, blouse and skirt. It had, and to this day, mostly still has, four parts, as can be seen in the following drawing. This form of the outfit is rarely seen today, so I will mostly be relying on old illustrations.
While some of the details may be suspect, we can clearly see the three parts of dress. Here are some later ones by a different artist.
The first figure, here executed by two different artists, is from the Visayas, the second from Pampanga on Luzon. The Spanish, when they arrived, found the wrap skirts to be too revealing, I'm not sure why, and pressured the native women to wear European style skirts. The saya is sometimes seen in these old drawings worn by itself.
But mostly, the women began to wear the saya [Spanish skirt] under the tapis [Native wrap skirt]. This style continues to the present day along with some more modern versions.
For festive dress, the baro was often woven with silk stripes alternating with gauzy areas that had designs woven into them. The result, while very attractive, resulted in a somewhat sheer garment that scandalized the Spanish. As a result, modesty panels were sewn to the front.
I have found no examples of sayas preserved in museums, so we will have to be content with examining the drawings. They undoubtedly had waistbands, and I suspect were constructed much like the wide sayasaya pants which I covered in my last article. Here are a few more illustrations of the old baro’t saya.