The Boxer Codex (Spanish: Códice Boxer), sometimes known as the Manila Manuscript, is a Spanish manuscript written circa 1590, which contains illustrations of ethnic groups in the Philippines, ethnic groups across Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Micronesia at the time of the early Spanish contact. It also contains Taoist mythological deities and demons, and both real and mythological birds and animals copied from popular Chinese texts and books in circulation at the time. Aside from a description of, and historical allusions to what is now the Philippines and various other Far Eastern countries, the codex also contains 97 hand-drawn color paintings and illustrations depicting peoples, birds and animals (both real and mythological) of the Philippines, the Indonesian Archipelago, Japan, China and mainland Southeast Asia. It has been pointed out more than once that the depictions of peoples from the Far East are the first ever created for European eyes. The first illustration is an oblong fold-out, 74 are full-page colored illustrations and the remaining are arranged four to a page on 22 pages (with some of the quarters remaining blank). Most of the drawings appear to have been copied or adapted from materials brought to the Philippines from China by Martin de Rada: the Shānhǎi Jīng (山海经, The Classic of Mountains and Seas), and books from the shenmo (神魔) genre, which depict deities and demons. The remaining drawings represent individuals, often a male and female pair, as inhabitants from tributaries of China with their distinctive costume; some of these have been refashioned as warriors. The depictions of inhabitants from Chinese tributaries may have been copied from a pre-existing source, drawn from memory or perhaps even drawn according to instruction given by Rada or one of the other Europeans who visited China. At least fifteen illustrations deal with the inhabitants of the Philippine Archipelago.
Contents and Provenance
The Boxer Codex depicts the Tagalogs, Visayans, Zambals, Cagayanes or possibly Ibanags, and Negritos of the Philippines in vivid color. The technique of the paintings, as does the use of Chinese paper, ink, and paints, suggests that the unknown artist may have been Chinese.
It is believed that the original owner of the manuscript was Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, son of Governor General Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines. Luis succeeded his father in office as Governor-General of the Philippines. Since Spanish colonial governors kept extensive written reports of the territories they governed, it is likely that the manuscript was written under the orders of the governor.
The manuscript's earliest known modern owner was Lord Ilchester. The codex was among what remained in his collection when his estate, Holland House in London, suffered from direct German shelling on September 27, 1940 during The Blitz. The manuscript was auctioned in 1947 and came into the possession of Professor Charles Ralph Boxer, an authority on the Far East, and after whom the document is named. It is now owned by the Lilly Library at Indiana University.
Picture Gallery of the Illustrations In Boxer Codex
Natives(All Captions Below Based on Source)
A Lady from the Cagayan Valley (Possibly Ibanag)
Warrior from Cagayan Valley (Possibly Ibanag)
Couple with tied long hair and Kampilan hilt from Taimei Anchorage, Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippines (Possibly Pangasinense from the old Caboloan state in Pangasinan that fell merely 14 years ago from when this was first illustrated)
Zambal hunters hunting
Tagalog royalty in red (the distinctive color of his class) with his wife.
Tagalog royal couple in red, the distinctive color of their class.
Native common women wearing simple clothes and headscarves (likely Muslims from Maynila in the 1500s)
Visayan kadatuan (royal) couple
Foreigners(All Captions Below Based on Source)
Manchu Noble with Wife from Dalian, Manchuria (then ruled by Ming Dynasty China)
Mandarin Bureaucrat with Wife from Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty Chinese General with Attendant
Chinese "Sangley" Couple living in Manila, Philippines wearing hanfu from Ming Dynasty
Another Chinese "Sangley" Couple living in Manila, Philippines wearing hanfu from Ming Dynasty
She or Hakka Chinese Merchant with Wife from Ming Dynasty China
Japanese Couple (Possibly Samurai/Ronin) living in Manila, Philippines, wearing yukata with hair styled in Chinese fashion, from Japan during Nanban trade era
Vietnamese Noble with Wife in Manila, from Tonkin, Đại Việt (Vietnam) under either the Mạc dynasty or Lê dynasty at that time.
Vietnamese Warrior with Wife from Hải Phòng, Tonkin, Đại Việt (Vietnam).
Vietnamese Noble with Wife from Quảng Nam, Đại Việt (Vietnam) under the Nguyễn lords at the time.
Cham Couple from Champa (in modern-day Ninh Thuận, Southern Vietnam)
Taiwanese Aboriginal Headhunter Couple from Keelung, Spanish Formosa (in modern-day Taiwan)
Taiwanese Aboriginal Headhunter Couple from Tamsui, Spanish Formosa (in modern-day Taiwan)
Chamorro Hunter from Marianas Islands (Guam/Northern Marianas) with Spear
Chamorro Hunter from Marianas Islands (Guam/Northern Marianas) with Bow
Warrior with Japanese swords and armor, Possibly a Mercenary from other southeast Asian territories.
Malay Couple from the Terangganu Sultanate (in Modern-day Malaysia)
Sangirese Warriors from Siau Island, Sangir Archipelago (in modern-day North Sulawesi, Indonesia)
Moluccan Warrior from the Moluccas (in modern-day Maluku Islands, Indonesia)
Roces, Alfredo R., ed. (1977), "Boxer Codex", Filipino Heritage: the Making of a Nation, IV, Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing, Inc.