Logographing Rice and Bamboo

I am continuing a series of calligraphy pieces in Baybayin script (ancient, Filipino writing system) to examine the meaning and aesthetic of one word or phrase in Tagalog. The combining of Baybayin alphasyllabic letters into an aesthetic whole, I am coining Logographing.

In Tagalog, there are at least seven different words for rice, showing how important rice is to the culture!

Tagalog in Baybayin script
unmilled rice
milled rice
cooked rice
rice porridge
burned rice
left-over rice
fried rice

One of my favorite words is “tutong” (ᜆᜓᜆᜓᜅ᜴) which refers to the burned, crispy rice at the bottom of the pot. Many cook this unintentionally but there are recipes (tutong na kanin, “burned cooked rice”) that exist in the Philippines as well as in other cultures that use burned rice. Korean people call it “nurungji” (누룽지), in Chinese it is “mi guoba” (米鍋耙), in Japanese it is “okoge” (お焦げ), in Vietnamese it is “cơm cháy.”


It’s an amazing word, so I logographed it in Baybayin script. I also did “kanin” (ᜃᜈᜒᜈ᜴) and “sinangag” (ᜐᜒᜈᜅ᜴ᜀᜄ᜴) because who doesn’t love cooked or fried rice!?

Baybayin script calligraphy: logographing “kanin” (cooked rice; ᜃᜈᜒᜈ᜴) The script on the side are the six other words Filipinos have for rice. (© 2017 Henry Del Rosario)
Baybayin script calligraphy: logographing “sinangag” (fried rice; ᜐᜒᜈᜅ᜴ᜀᜄ᜴) “sa” (ᜐ) is particularly deconstructed. (© 2017 Henry Del Rosario)
Baybayin script calligraphy: logographing “tutong” (burned rice; ᜆᜓᜓᜆᜓᜅ᜴) (© 2017 Henry Del Rosario)


I am finishing reading the Filipino poems (ambahans) from Antoon Postma’s Treasure of a Minority. Filipinos use nature in creative and allegorical ways in their poetry. Monkeys, hurricanes, rivers, and bamboo are abundant. Below is a logograph of “kawayan” (ᜃᜏᜌᜈ᜴).

Baybayin script calligraphy: logographing “kawayan” (bamboo; ᜃᜏᜌᜈ᜴). Baybayin was traditionally carved on bamboo and then wiped with ash. “Kawayan” is the same word in Tagalog as in Hanunoo-Mangyan language. (© 2017 Henry Del Rosario)

If you are learning Baybayin, it may be confusing because I do switch between strict traditional Baybayin (no end consonants, no cross kudlits nor pamudpó) to modern Baybayin, which uses modernized notation for easier reading. Ancient Filipinos would say and understand “kawayan” but would only write it as “ᜃᜏᜌ” not “ᜃᜏᜌᜈ᜴” nor “ᜃᜏᜌᜈ᜔”. Baybayin is an alphasyllabary which does not traditionally denote end constants such as the “n” in “kawayan” or the “ng” and last “g” in “sinangag.” I go back an forth due to aesthetic reasons! :D


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