Thursday, May 10, 2012

221. BINATA'T DALAGA: Filipiniana Souvenir Dolls

I chanced upon this handsome couple on ebay--a Filipino/Filpina pair of dolls complete with detailed Filipiniana costumes. It's rare to find a matching pair sold together, in great condition as well. These kinds of dolls were very popular in the 30s, sold in emporiums and bazaars to Manila tourists as souvenirs. The head, hands and feet are made of fine clay, while the bodies are made of stuffed cloth.

The heads are painted realistically--the young man's head is molded and painted, while the young miss has a  black mohair wig curled in the flapper style that was all the rage in the 30s. Both are outfitted with glass eyes.

The dolls are outfitted in authentic Filipiniana outfits made from traditional fabrics. The Filipina doll is exceptional in detailing--she is in a baro't saya, complete with an inner wear called kimona. Over this is gauzy baro with butterfly sleeves with floral appliqués and a stiffened panuelo (piano shawl) held together by a faux gem alfiler (pin). The saya has a long train of the de cola variety. I am not sure if this doll is missing a tapiz, which would be of the same gauze material wrapped around the says. She wears  a pair of native corchos or slippers.

The handsome swain is dressed in a simple barong tagalog and a pair of coarse brown pants, with matching tan-colored shoes. I have seen male dolls of this sort made in the likeness of Jose Rizal, maybe a character doll, but this chap looks like your everyday Pinoy binata. Bought as a pair long ago by an American tourist smitten by our islands, these Filipiniana dolls survived 70+ years "living" abroad. Now they are coming back home, a destiny made possible by ebay!


  1. Hello!! I happened on a pair of these & you are the only person on the Internet I've found that has a set. Mine are clothed different, but the faves are the exact same. Would you be willing to tell me what you paid for them?
    I love that you actually had info on these because I couldn't find anything anywhere!

  2. Clarifications:

    The doll's attire was properly called traje de mestiza, & was used for formal occasions.
    It is only called "baro't saya" if the material is made of lesser-quality textiles, the composition is just blouse-&-skirt, and is used as everyday wear (usually seen in photos of the provinces).

    The females' upper undergarment was called corpiño.
    The "kimona" is just a sleeveless baro worn usually as a house garment.
    The pin in the doll is a nod to the pre-War camisa being slit down the front (similar to the fate of the barong Tagalog which was formerly a shirt during the Spanish colonial period) by the turn of the 20th century, and was usually held close by pins topped by a decorative bar pin.
    (thereby making the camisa form-fitting, in imitation of American fashion trends)

    The equivalent Western term of the pañuelo would be fichu.
    Similar to the piano shawl would be the "mantones de Manila", made in China & imported from Mexico via the galleon trade.

    The doll is NOT missing a tapis (which in the traje de mestiza called a sobrefalda, and was usually made out of imported black illusion tulle; normally a tapis would be opaque and used as an apron, in Tagalog dalantal), since mid-1930's fashion has totally discarded it.