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"Books" on Bamboo Tubes

mangyan bamboo texts

Aside from the Ate Vi issue of Liwayway that I saw at the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress, I also found some examples of "early Filipino writing in Indic script incised on bamboo tubes."

And though I was not able to make an appointment in advance, Kathryn Wellen (see photo below, right) was kind enough to show me the bamboo tubes for real. The tubes, incidentally, are Wellen's grab-and-run items in case of emergency. Yes, these bamboo tubes are the most important in the entire Southeast Asian collection.

mangyan bamboo texts mangyan bamboo texts mangyan bamboo texts kathryn wellen
Click on the photos to see larger versions.

As John Reyes, the Filipino who used to work for the Asian Division, once wrote,
These specimens of Filipino writing in old Indic script were gathered on the island of Mindoro around 1938. This collection of 55 bamboos in prose and 22 in verse provides a glimpse into Mangyan (Hampangan) and Tagbanua society.
mangyan bamboo texts

Wellen also took me to the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room, where she got the librarian on-duty to show me what is probably the only existing copy of the Doctrina Christiana. I wasn't allowed to touch the book or take photos, but... wow!

Unlike the Doctrina Christiana, the bamboo tubes shown above are not available online. And so, I suppose this post will have to suffice until the Library of Congress decides to "digitize" the bamboo tubes.

Category: The Philippines

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