The Tausug or SULUK people are an ethnic group in the Philippines and Malaysia.
“Tausug” comes from these two words “tau” (man) and “sug” (current).
Traditionally the Tausug are sailors, pearl divers and traders. Their ancestral homelands in the Sulu Archipelago have vigorous tidal currents that flow from the Sulu and China Seas to the Celebes Sea. This literally translates into the name “people of the current.”
They are the first group in the archipelago to be converted into Islam. The Tausug are known to possess a courage that is beyond measure, their bravery unquestionable. Thus, the Tausug are often referred to as Tau Maisug or brave people.
They are proud Muslims, renowned for their fierce resistance against the Spanish Conquerors during the years of colonialism. For 300 years the Tausug and the Spanish were engaged in almost continuous warfare, which ended when the Spaniards left the Philippines.
The Tausug regard themselves as superior to the other Philippine Muslims and still live a combative way of life. Therefore, running away from a fight is considered shameful.
One old Tausug proverb says: “Hanggang maybuhay, may pag asa.”
In the past, the Tausug were boisterous pirates who infested the waters from the Sulu seas. Nowadays, they make a living from agriculture, raising water buffaloes and fishing.
Aside from being known as the best, gallant and ferocious freedom fighters, the Tausug are also famous for being the best pearl divers.
The strong-willed Tausug follow the Sunni Islamic beliefs and practices, Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. The Tausug also believe in spirits that inhabit nature, especially rocks and trees, like the evil spirits named saytan and unseen creatures called jinn.
According to the Tausug the human soul has four souls which leave the body when he dies, the life-soul related with blood, the spirit-soul connected with dreams, the soul of breath- associated with life, and the transcendental soul. The body of the deceased will go to hell, to receive punishment for the sins committed while he was living. Various charms and belief in spirits, in order to gain success and good fortune, are still a great part of their daily life.
Tausug folk stories tell of great ancestors and legends. A favourite legend is the Kaawn of Bud Tumantangis. Mount Tumantangis, the highest peak in the province is called as such because sailors cry when they sail away and lose sight of it, and again upon seeing its silhouette from far away when they return. The name Tumantangis comes from the word “tangos” (to cry), and “bud” (mountain). It is also known to locals as the weeping mountain.
The Tausug Moon Story/ Tausug Creation Story
as depicted in this woven art, shown in the photo above.
One day, in Paradise, God decided that He would make the ruler of the Earth strong and steadfast. So he said to the angels, “Let us mold Man out of earth.” The angels immediately went down to fetch some soil, but the devils, which were close to the soil, did not allow them to take it, for they were jealous of the angels. So the angels came rushing back to God. God saw that the devils could be placated by giving them something that He also gave His angels, and so He agreed to also give the devils revelation of everything He would do. Thus appeased, the devils helped the angels gather soil to create Man.
But Man made out of pure earth crumbled. So God mixed water with the soil, and the water held the scattering fragments together somewhat, but then the mixture would not dry. God therefore summoned the wind to dry the Man. And when the Man was dried, God saw that the Man was stiff, that he could not move. God thus placed fire inside Man. It was so that Man, in the end, was composed of the four elements of the Earth: earth, water, air and fire.
But Man was lonely. So God put him to sleep and took a piece of his rib, and created Woman. He blessed them and what would be the fruits of their beautiful union.
The first children Man and Woman had were a white boy and a white girl. Then they had a black boy and a black girl. The white boy and the white girl married and left Paradise, to live on the Earth on their own. The black boy and the black girl also married and lived on the Earth on their own. So the Earth became populated with whites and blacks first.
Life was well for Man and Woman in Paradise. But one day a stranger there came to Woman, offering her a fruit. But Woman was already full. She took the fruit anyway and ate it. When Man came along, she urged him to eat it, too. And because the two of them had been full to start with, their stomachs rebelled and they started urinating and defecating in Paradise. This caused God to throw them out, and to curse their entire line from ever coming back. It has thus been established that the real source of all our suffering is Woman’s gluttony. Until now our two immortal forebears have not been found.
(Source: Introduction to Philippine Folklore)