Boxer Codex

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The Boxer Codex is a manuscript written c. 1595 which contains illustrations of ethnic groups in the Philippines at the time of their initial contact with the Spaniards. Aside from a description of, and historical allusions to the Philippines and various other Far Eastern countries, it also contains seventy-five colored drawings of the inhabitants of these regions and their distinctive costumes. At least fifteen illustrations deal with the natives of the Philippine Archipelago.

It is believed that the original owner of the manuscript was Luis Pérez das Mariñas, son of Governor General Gómez Pérez das Mariñas, who was killed in 1593 by Sangleys (Chinese living in the Philippines). Luis succeeded his father in office as Governor General of the Philippines. Since Spanish colonial governors were required to supply written reports on the territories they governed, it is likely that the manuscript was written under the orders of the governor.

The manuscript's earliest known owner was Lord Ilchester. The codex was among what remained in his collection when his estate, Holland House in London, suffered a direct hit during an air raid in 1942. The manuscript was auctioned in 1947 and came into the possession of Prof. Charles Ralph Boxer, an authority on the Far East. It is now owned by the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

The Boxer Codex depicts the Tagalogs, Visayans, Zambals, Cagayanes or possibly Ibanags and Negritos of the Philippines in vivid colors. The technique of the paintings suggests that the artist may have been Chinese, as does the use of Chinese paper, ink and paints.

Picture gallery of the illustrations in Boxer Codex

Native (Classical period) inhabitants of the Philippines

Illustrations of resident foreigners in the pre-colonial Philippine archipelago


  1. ^ Roces 1977, p. 1003.
  2. ^ Roces 1977, p. 1004.


  • Roces, Alfredo R., ed. (1977), "Boxer Codex", Filipino Heritage: the Making of a Nation IV, Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing, Inc. 

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