Filipino Rayadillo Norfolk Pattern Tunic



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The Norfolk jacket is based on an English hunting jacket of the period.  In both its civilian and military forms, the most distinguishing feature of this style of jacket is the presents of two broad bands of matching fabric running from the shoulders down the chest to the hem.   These bands almost always conceal inset breast pockets.  On Philippine military tunics these will always have vertical pocket flaps with buttons.  Most, but not all, will have four large open top cargo pockets on the front and side skirts.  Known button variations include brass 'Sun Face' insignia buttons, plain brass buttons and rayadillo cloth covered buttons.

The origins of the Norfolk jacket as the recognized uniform of the Republican Army are somewhat in dispute.  It is not a copy of any Spanish pattern uniform.  One popular theory gives credit for the design to the famous Filipino artist Juan Luna.  He was living in Europe at the time and could have been influenced by English fashion.  He was the brother of General Antonio Luna who is said to have commissioned him for the task.  This is possible as General Luna was responsible for a number of reforms and improvements in the army.  However, it is interesting to note that photographs of the General show him wearing a rayadillo tunic similar to a Spanish Guayabera, with shoulder yoke and pleated front, and not a Norfolk jacket. 

Another explanation of the uniform's origin is that when Aguinaldo and his followers were in exile in the British colony of Hong Kong they had uniforms made of rayadillo in this popular outdoorsman pattern.  On their return, these English tailor made samples became the 'regulation' pattern. 

Whether these stories are true, or there is another explanation, it is well documented that the Norfolk jacket was, far and away, the most widely used pattern tunic among Filipino officers and some enlisted men.

A group of Aguinaldo's aids.  Most wear variations of the Norfolk jacket in both rayadillo and white drill.  Note that they follow the Spanish fashion of wearing their swords and pistol holsters on a belt under the tunic.  Openings in the sides of the tunic gave access to the hidden belt.

An American soldier displaying a captured rayadillo Norfolk uniform along with other souvenirs.  Image taken sometime during the Philippine Insurrection.

    Philippines Army Norfolk Jacket: An Unknown Colorado Soldier's Souvenir

Standard pattern with standing collar, broad vertical bands, breast and cargo pockets, and pointed cuffs.  This example has shoulder straps and brass 'Sun Face' buttons.

Detail view of one of the brass 'Sun Face' buttons.

Back view showing the large box pleat.

Cargo pockets, the side opening in the skirt allows the holster and sword to be attached to a hidden belt worn under the tunic.

Philippines Army Norfolk Jacket: Souvenir of Edward D. Furman, Co. A, First Washington Volunteers


Artifact courtesy of the Wisconsin Veteran Museum

This variation is made without shoulder straps and with plain cuffs.  Also has rayadillo cloth covered buttons.

Note that the broad vertical bands are repeated on the back of this example.

Cargo pockets, note there is no side slit in the skirt on this example.

Detail of the cloth covered button.


All material is Copyright 2008 by William K. Combs.  No portion may be used without permission.