Posted on Thursday, 5th August 2010 by All Philippines

Considered by many anthropological experts as one of the earliest illustrations depicting the lives and rich culture of the early Filipinos is the manuscript known today as the Boxer Codex. This 16th century manuscript was named after Charles Ralph (C.R.) Boxer, a noted British Army officer and historian famous for his research of the Far East, particularly the Southeast Asian region. Professor Boxer got hold of this precious manuscript when it was auctioned off in 1947. Its previous owner was Giles Fox-Strangeways, the 6th Earl of Ilchester. Although it was not known how the Boxer Codex came into Lord Ilchester’s possession, the old manuscript miraculously survived a massive fire that broke out in his estate, the Holland House, during a German Military air raid in 1942. Professor Boxer later worked at Indiana University serving as an advisor at the university’s Lilly Library. The library now owns the manuscripts and researches of Professor Boxer related in the Far East including the renowned Boxer Codex.

It is believed that that the Boxer Codex was created on the order of Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, the 9th Governor-General of the Philippines (1593-1596). Under his leadership, it was required for Spanish colonial governors serving on different colonized region of the Philippines to submit written reports on the conditions, the culture, and the way of life of the territories and the constituents they governed. It was most likely that the Boxer Codex was created to supplement this order.

Drawn on the pages of the Boxer Codex are beautiful illustrations of the early Filipinos divided into different regions (Cagayanons, Negritos, Tagalogs, Visayas, Zambals). And based on the artistic style and painting materials used to create these drawings, it is believed that a Chinese artist, commissioned by one of the Spanish colonial governors, rendered these illustrative creations. The Boxer Codex also has other chapters dedicated to other regions in Southeast Asia, including parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Southern China.


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