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Agusan image


digital projection

variable dimensions, square

In 1917, Bilay Campos of the indigenous Manobo tribe discovered a 1,000-year old Golden Tara (Agusan image) on the banks of the Wawa River in Agusan del Sur (a province in the Philippines). The discovery site is 100 miles south of where my maternal ancestors lived in Surigao.


A composite map of two rivers: the Wawa River in Surigao and the Mississippi River in MIssouri is projected on the figure emulating the lotus position of the Golden Tara. The patterns on the figure mimic the ornamentation on the Golden Tara and is also a nod to the Pintados.


The Golden Tara is considered one of the most significant archeological finds from the Philippines, evidence of an advanced culture prior to European discovery and conquest, proof that the islands were not isolated from the outside, “civilized” world but rather part of the Majapahit Empire that dominated Southeast Asia since 1293.


The Golden Tara of Agusan was donated to Chicago's Field Museum by Louise Wood, wife of American Governor-General of the Philippines, Leonard Wood. How it came into Wood’s possession remains controversial. It is on permanent display in the Field Museum’s Hall of Gems.


Collection: Liminal Spaces


Field Museum

Apostol, Virgil Mayor, Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions, North Atlantic Books, 2015

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