Jun 10, 2023

The Butuan Goddess, How to Get Her Back

WHEN you enter Butuan City in Agusan del Norte, you will be welcomed by a regally seated golden goddess. The statue, which is a 3-feet tall enlarged replica of the real "Butuan goddess," is an 18-karat gold figure supposedly found by a Manobo woman by the Wawa River. Some people call the goddess "The Golden Tara," "The Agusan Gold Image" or simply "The Agusan Image." The original is in the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History.

It was found in 1917, in Esperanza, Agusan, after heavy flooding of the eponymous river, according to the "CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art," citing the American anthropologist Otley Beyer. In 1920, Dr. F.D.K. Bosch of Batavia (now Jakarta in Indonesia) concluded that it was made by local goldsmiths. In 1963, the historian Juan Francisco theorized that it is the figure of an Indo-Javanese queen or a tara. An Indian scholar once stated that it is a goddess. I do not want to be embroiled in a naming controversy. Tara, image or goddess, just allow me to refer to it as the Butuan goddess, to add romance and mystery to the image.

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