The Sarimanok is a legendary bird of the Maranao people who originate from Mindanao, a major island in the Philippines. It comes from the words "sari" and "manok." "Sari" means cloth or garment, which is generally of assorted colors. Manòk, which makes up part of its name, is a Philippine word for chicken.
It is the legeNdary bird that has become a ubiquitous symbol of Maranao art. It is depicted as a fowl with colorful wings and feathered tail, holding a fish on its beak or talons. The head is profusely decorated with scroll, leaf, and spiral motifs. It is said to be a symbol of good fortune. -------------------------------------------------
The Sarimanok is derived from a totem bird of the Maranao people, called Itotoro. According to the Maranao people, the Itotoro is a medium to the spirit world via its unseen twin spirit bird called Inikadowa. The Sarimanok is also believed to have originated from an Islamic legend. According to the legend,Muhammad found a rooster in the first of the seven heavens. The bird was so large its crest touched the second heaven. Its crow roused every living creature except man. Judgement day would come once this celestial rooster ceased to crow. A Maranao legend also says of a Sultan's daughter being swept by a colorful rooster that became a handsome young man and they were never seen ever again. The Sultan then created replicas of the bird to remember his daughter by. -------------------------------------------------
According to the tradition, the sarimanok is never displayed by itself. It must be displayed with the set of flags, standards and vexilloids. At present, this is not totally true; sarimanok may be placed on the top of the umbrella of a Sultan or dignitary, and also, the Mindanao State University has adopted it for the graduation exercises following a non-traditional use. The Far Eastern University seal bears the FEU Coat of Arms and the sarimanok motif. The FEU Coat of arms consists of eight-pointed golden star that represents the first eight main disciplines of FEU. The sarimanok is a legendary bird in full color that project the nationalistic spirit upon which the university is founded. The university wanted to have a Filipino touch in everything because they were one of the first universities in the Philippines to be founded by a pure-blooded Filipino, Dr. Nicanor Reyes, Sr..
My first encounter with this legendary bird wasn't very overwhelming. The Sarimanok appears on the station ID of a local TV station in the Philippines back in the late 90's which one can probably see at least twice a day. It became just a nice bird with lots of colors. It doesn't seem very special, and it looks like a rooster.
But then again, the bird is very symbolical.
It means wealth and prosperity to the Maranaos. Tracing its roots to Islam due to the involvement of Muhammad in this, it is of no surprise that its popularity is widely accepted in the southern parts of the country. The Maranao legend says of a sultan's daughter being swept by a colorful rooster that turned to a dashing, handsome young man and the two was never seen ever again. The sultan then created visual replicas of the bird so that she can remember her daughter through it. Maybe he finds it easier to remember the chicken, rather than her daughter.
It is surprising that we Filipinos have a legendary bird too, just like the Phoenix. It is through the nature of its appearance that it probably got its name. Sarimeans cloth or garment, which is generally full of colors and Manok (you should go back to being a baby if you're Filipino and don't know what manok is). The Sarimanok is a colorful chicken indeed.
The complete ensemble
Two gongs on the stand
The head representing the mythical bird Sarimanok