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Princess Urduja

The First Filipino Animated Film


Video Teaser -Princess Urduja

with Cesar Montano and Regine Velasquez



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Urduja (ca. 1350 C.E - 1400 C.E.), is a legendary warrior-princess who is recognized as a heroine in Pangasinan. A historical reference to Urduja can be found in the travel account of Ibn Battuta (1304 - possibly 1368 or 1377 C.E.), a Muslim traveler from Morocco.

Ibn Battuta described Urduja as the ruler of Kaylukari in the land of Tawalisi. After reaching Samudra in what is now Sumatra, Ibn Battuta passed by Tawalisi on his way to China. Princess Urduja was described as a daughter of a ruler named Tawalisi of a land that was also called Tawalisi. The ruler of Tawalisi, according to Ibn Battuta, possessed many ships and was a rival of China, which was then ruled by a Mongol dynasty. Ibn Battuta sailed for 17 days to reach China from the land of Tawalisi.

Ibn Battuta described Princess Urduja as a warrior princess whose army was composed of men and women. Princess Urduja was a woman warrior who personally took part in the fighting and engaged in duels with other warriors. She was quoted as saying that she will marry no one but him who fights and defeats her in a duel. Other warriors avoided fighting with her for fear of being disgraced.

Princess Urduja impressed Ibn Battuta with her military exploits and her ambition to lead an expedition to India, known to her as the "Pepper Country." But, Princess Urduja also showed her hospitality by preparing a banquet for Ibn Battuta and the crew of his ship. Princess Urduja generously provided Ibn Battuta with gifts that included robes, rice, two buffaloes, and four large jars of ginger, pepper, lemons, and mangoes, all salted, in preparation for Ibn Battuta's sea-voyage to China.

Jose Rizal speculated that the land of Tawalisi was in the area of the northern part of the Philippines, based on his calculation of the time and distance of travel Ibn Battuta took to sail to China from Tawalisi. In 1916, Austin Craig, a historian of the University of the Philippines, in "The Particulars of the Philippines Pre-Spanish Past," traced the land of Tawalisi and Princess Urduja to Pangasinan.

The description of Princess Urduja's gifts of rice, buffaloes, ginger, pepper, lemons, mangoes, and salt fits Pangasinan perfectly because of the abundance of those products in Pangasinan. The closely related Ibaloi people have an oral tradition of a woman named Udayan who ruled an ancient alliance of lowland and highland settlements in Pangasinan and the neighboring province of Benguet. Ibn Battuta also mentioned that Urduja had some knowledge of Turkish. During the time of Ibn Battuta period, the influence of the Turkish Ottoman Empire was on the rise.

Ibn Batutta's travel account suggests that he also saw elephants in the land ruled by Urduja. Elephants can still be found in Borneo, and may have been gifts or traded in Pangasinan in earlier times. Ancient Malayo-Polynesian sailing vessels, like the ones used by the ancient Bugis and those depicted in the Borobudur bas-reliefs, were capable of transporting heavy cargoes, including elephants. There are depictions of such ancient ships in maritime Southeast Asia transporting several elephants for trade.

In Pangasinan, Urduja has been depicted as the only daughter of a datu whose sons lost their lives defending their agricultural settlements in the Agno River valley and sea trade routes to their Srivijaya and Champa allies. Urduja was trained in the art of war since she was a child, and she became an expert with the kampilan and a skilled navigator. She commanded a fleet of proas to protect their maritime trade networks against pirates and threats from China. With her beauty, she attracted many suitors.

Taken from Wikipedia

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