Sidapa | @aswangproject

Sidapa (Visayan Deity of the Afterlife)


Did you know that some pre-colonial Philippine areas had their own tree of life design? It is shown here on this gold chastity plate.

While it is often associated with Celtic imagery, the tree of life design is much older and spread over many cultures.

In Babylonian mythology, the Tree of Life was a magical tree that grew in the center of paradise. The Apsu, or primordial waters, flowed from its roots. It is the prototype of the tree described in Genesis: the biblical Tree of Paradise evolved directly from this ancient symbol; it is the symbol from which the Egyptian, Islamic, and Kabbalistic Tree of Life concepts originated.

In Visayan Mythology – from beliefs on the island of Panay – it was recorded that Sidapa, the deity of the afterlife, measures all human life on a giant tree near the top of Mt. Madya-as. (Loarca, 1582)

IMAGE from the Ayala Museum Collection: This is a chastity cover that features a 12-petalled rosette in the center, surrounded by six medallions with spirals and a tree-of-life design in repoussé. Tied around the waist to hang over the groin area, it was used symbolically to protect the genital area of a young noble female. The use of gold signifies the wealth of the wearer.

Ca. 10th-13th century
Butuan, Agusan del Norte

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