Bakunawa Picture

Time: 5 hours
Watercolor and Japanese Sumi Black Ink.

I've been in my artistic mood lately and what better way than to make art based on Filipino culture?

This painting is on Bakunawa, a Philippine dragon like sea serpent deity. The writing says Bakunawa in Baybayin, the Philippine ancient script used before the Spaniards came and colonized the islands. The script is coming into a fast revival through young Filipino's, especially those born outside the homeland who want to know more about their heritage and those who are slowly slipping away from the more than 400 years of colonial mindset. We are leaving behind that mindset and embracing and remembering our true culture, our way of life, and the memories of our ancestors who without them we wouldn't be here today.

For some reason the scanned version looks way different from the original painting. -.- Most likely its just my bad scanner but ah well. I'll try taking a photo of it from my Canon Rebel to see if it comes out good. Most of my other artwork done in paintings and such come out better than the scanned.


The Bakunawa, also known as Bakonawa, Baconaua, or Bakonaua, is a deity in Philippine mythology that is often represented as a gigantic sea serpent. It is believed to be the god of the underworld and is often considered to be the cause of eclipses.

It appears as a giant sea serpent with a mouth the size of a lake, a red tongue, whiskers, gills, small wires at its sides, and two sets of wings, one is large and ash-gray while the other is small and is found further down its body.

Tales about the Bakunawa say that it is the cause of eclipses. During ancient times, Filipinos believe that there are seven moons created by Bathala to light up the sky. The Bakunawa, amazed by their beauty, would rise from the ocean and swallow the moons whole, angering Bathala and causing them to be mortal enemies.

To keep the Bakunawa moons from completely being swallowed, ancient Filipinos would go out of their homes with pans and pots, and would make noise in order to scare the Bakonawa into spitting out the moon back into the sky. Some of the people in the villages would play soothing sounds with their musical instruments, in hopes that the dragon would fall into a deep sleep. Thus, the brave men of the village hoped that while the dragon was hypnotized by the musical sounds they could somehow slay the dragon. Although the dragon was known as a "moon eater" it was also known as a "man eater".

Other tales tell that the Bakunawa has a sister in the form of a sea turtle. The sea turtle would visit a certain island in the Philippines in order to lay its eggs. However, locals soon discovered that every time the sea turtle went to shore, the water seemed to follow her, thus reducing the island's size. Worried that their island would eventually disappear, the locals killed the sea turtle.

When the Bakunawa found out about this, it arose from the sea and ate the moon. The people were afraid so they prayed to Bathala to punish the creature. Bathala refused but instead told them to bang some pots and pans in order to disturb the serpent. The moon is then regurgitated while the Bakunawa disappeared, never to be seen again.

The island where the sea turtle lays its eggs is said to exist today. Some sources say that the island might just be one of the Turtle Islands.

Figures of the Bakunawa's head decorate the hilts of many ancient Filipino swords. These swords that originate in Panay are said to bestow upon the hangaway or mandirigma (sacred warriors) the fearful presence and power of the Bakunawa (or whatever deity/animal they have on their deity hilt) when they wield their swords in combat.
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