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Tikbalang The Philippine Demon Horse Commons.jpg
Title Tikbalang the human horse
Description The Benevolent Horse
Gender Unknown, most likely male
Region Philippines

Tikbalang (also written as Tigbalang, Tigbalan, or Tikbalan)or Tigbolan, is a creature of Philippine folklore said to lurk in the mountains and forests of the Philippines. It is generally described as a tall, bony humanoid creature with disproportionately long limbs, to the point that its knees reach above its head when it squats down.[1] It has the head and feet of an animal, most commonly a horse. In some versions it is a transformation of an aborted fetus sent to earth from limbo.[2]

It traces the image of the Tikbalang back 4000 years, finding its roots in Hinduism and explains how that influence evolved into the mysterious half horse creature we know today. For decades, stories of the Tikbalang have been viewed as ignorant superstitions, invented and demonized by the Spanish.


The image of Hayagriva, is a horse-headed avatar of the Lord Vishnu in Hinduism.

It traces the image of the Tikbalang back 4000 years, finding its roots in Hinduism and explains how that influence evolved into the mysterious half horse creature we know today.

Natives of the ancient concept of monotheism to reduce the uncertainty of the future. This ancient belief is considered animism. They had knowledge and they thought that the world has its own consciousness. They believed that stones, trees, mountains, water, animals, sun, moon and has a hidden power quickened the spirit or 'idol'. Could be good or harm the spirit, but it is believed to control some aspects of life. in 1589, when the earliest days of the Spanish occupation, documented by Father Juan de Plasencia with long-term tikbalang awareness of indigenous peoples .

Hinduism began in 3000 BC in India and spread to Southeast Asia in 200 CE. Had developed several routes of trade and cultural influence spread throughout the region. Soon, there was some kind of Buddhism in Asia but remained Hindu influences. This happened before Islam and Christianity in the region , this might have to do with Tikbalang Hayagriva was the avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. The worship of Hayagriva was recorded in 2000 BCE,

The images for giant flying birds, the Tikbalang, and Sirena are straight out of Hindu imagery. Influence on religion was also prevalent with the concept of a multi-layered world – Heaven and Hell. According to the Hindu Puranas, there are fourteen worlds in the universe – the seven upper and the seven lower. The seven upper worlds are Bhuh, Bhavah, Swah, Mahah, Janah. Tapah, and Satyam; and the seven nether worlds are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Patala. The region known as Bhuh is the earth where we dwell.

Began its association with Tikbalang 1860 discovery of a statue to Cambodia since the 10th century. It described the demons that Vadavamuka, the more radical version of the avatar of Vishnu. Eventually, Buddhism changed the image of Hayagriva a small horse's head floated to crown fire. In China, provided the old image of Hayagriva face with horses - one of the demons keeper into the inferno. Probably has the same happened in Tikbalang adapt it to the Filipinos in their beliefs after exacting culture through trade. Nine hundred years before the Spaniards arrived, went to the Chinese merchants in the Philippines and while there they use horses. But there's just started the evolution of Tikbalang.


Tikbalangs or Tigbolan scare travelers, lead them astray and play tricks on them such that the travelers keep on returning to an arbitrary path no matter how far they go or turn. This is counteracted by wearing one's shirt inside out. Another countermeasure is to ask permission out loud to pass by or, not to produce too much noise while in the woods in order not to offend or disturb the tikbalang. The "tigbolan" is a ghost which assumes a variety of forms, and sometimes confers a similar gift upon certain favored individuals, in much the same way as the devil was wont to grant extraordinary powers to a few of our adventuresome forefathers. A superstition popular with the Tagalog of Rizal Province is that Tikbalangs are benevolent guardians of elemental kingdoms. They are usually found standing at the foot of large trees looking around for anyone who dare to bestow malignancy on their kingdom's territory.

A common saying has it that rain from a clear sky means "may kinakasal na tikbalang."(Filipino, "a tikbalang is getting married".) This was potentially connected with a similar Spanish proverb that claimed a witch was getting married when there was rain on a sunny day,[citation needed] although many cultures have such sayings in which a trickster figure gets married (cp. fox's wedding, bear's wedding, monkey's birthday/wedding).

In some versions, the tikbalang can also transform itself into human form or turn invisible to humans. They like to lead travelers astray.[1]

Tikbalang are generally associated with dark, sparsely populated, foliage-overgrown areas, with legends variously identifying their abode as being beneath bridges, in bamboo clumps or banana groves, and atop Kalumpang (Sterculia foetida)[3] or Balite (Ficus indica) trees.

Taming a tikbalang[edit]

By one account a tikbalang has a mane of sharp spines, with the three thickest of these being of particular importance. A person who obtains one of these spines can use them as an anting-anting (talisman) in order to keep the tikbalang as his servant. The tikbalang must first be subdued, however, by leaping onto it and tying it with a specially-prepared cord. The would-be-tamer must then hang on while the creature flies through the air, fighting madly to dislodge its unwelcome rider, until it is exhausted and acknowledges its defeat.[2] or you can look on his mane and you will see 3 golden hairs and if you pluck 3 of them before he/she eats you, they will serve you until you die.

In popular culture[edit]


  • Tikbalang: The Horse Demon was the first episode of the 2015 Creatures Of Philippine Mythology documentary web-series produced by The Aswang Project and High Banks Entertainment Ltd. It traces back the origin of the Tikbalang's image to India, circa 2000BCE, and follows its evolution to modern day.[4]


  • Within the Lemegeton the 55th goetic spirit Orobas has the physical appearance of a tikbalang.
  • A tikbalang named Lusyo features prominently in The Mythology Class, a graphic novel written and illustrated by Filipino comic creator Arnold Arre.[5]
  • X-Men and Wetworks illustrator Whilce Portacio has created a comic book series called Stone: The Awakening, which features Filipino legendary creatures, including the tikbalang.
  • A tale including a tikbalang appears in When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe. The wise creature mentors a young Filipino man who can see ghosts that haven't yet passed on.
  • A tikbalang is the antagonist of the issue "Rules of the Race" in the comic Trese, where it engages in street races with unwitting drivers.[6]
  • Tikbalang Kung Kabilugan ng Buwan is a child-friendly telling of the Tikbalang mythos – written by Victoria Añonuevo, illustrated by Kora Dandan-Albano and released by Adarna House – intended to familiarize young Filipino audiences with Philippine Mythological creatures. In the story, a Tikbalang becomes lonely for lack of a playmate during the full moon, a time when Filipino children of generations past traditionally went out to play in the moonlight. In search for a playmate, the Tikbalang leaves his home in the Kalumpang tree and encounters first a Kapre, then a Nuno, an Aswang, and a Tiyanak, before he finally meets another Tikbalang as a suitable playmate.[3]


  • The 2008 animated film Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia features the Tikbalang as one of the main creatures of the story.
  • A Tikbalang like creature was featured in the 2002 film Spirit Warriors: The Shortcut, where it is described as brown, hairy, gigantic creature which is similar to the height of a Kapre, where it helps Red and Thor escape while they were attaked by an army of Aswangs.
  • Lav Diaz' 2016 film A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery (Filipino: Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis) prominently features a tikbalang, portrayed as a triune creature, played by Bernardo Bernardo, Cherie Gil, and Angel Aquino. In this interpretation, the Tikbalang are portrayed as the engkanto who made a deal with the Spanish rulers to bind the mythical being known as Bernardo Carpio, allowing the Spanish to rule over the leaderless people. Towards the end of the film, however, the Tikbalang reveals that they were never responsible for chaining up Bernardo Carpio because he is just a myth, noting that it is foolish to hope for salvation from a figment of the imagination.


  • The 2010 television show Lost Girl has a Tikbalang as a one time foe. Its appearance differs from the one that is in the Philippine Mythology, which is described as a humanoid grass like creature which is similar of that Man-Thing.
  • ABS-CBN 2013 television series Juan dela Cruz leading the Tikbalang and Enkanto as Juan's allies against Peruha and the Aswang legions.
  • ABS-CBN 2006 television series Super Inggo leading the Tikbalang was actually Cynthia (Kaye Abad)
  • ABS-CBN 2009 Mars Ravelos' Komiks Presents: Flash Bomba. Roldan Legazpi (Luis Manzano) was paralyzed by Tikbalang. Tikboy granted Roldan his superpower of Tikbalang's magical hair to allow him to transform into a superhero called; "Flash Bomba".


  • The Filipino hardcore band, Tame the Tikbalang is named after this creature, and the common motif of "taming" one.

Video games[edit]

  • The popular MMORPG World of Warcraft features a character named "Griftah" who sells an amulet called an "Infallible Tikbalang Ward". The accompanying text states, "With this trusty warding talisman, no tikbalang will ever find you and steal you away to the treetops. It really works!" When an item in World of Warcraft is said to "really work", it seldom does; naturally, tikbalangs are not found in the game.
  • In the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, Tikbalang is a rare monster belonging to the Tauri family (demonic humanoids composed of various animal parts, capable of inflicting a lethal curse if you do not avert your eyes.)
  • Tikbalang also appears in MMORPG Ragnarok Online as a giant armored horse in Malaya Port, a city based in Philippines.

See also[edit]


  • Blair, Emma Helen; Edward Gaylord Bourne, James Alexander Robertson, John Boyd Thacher (1905). The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803. The A. H. Clark company. pp. 269–270. ASIN B000858BO4.  [7]
  • Bergaño, Diego (1860). Vocabulario de la lengua Pampangan en romance (in Spanish). Ramirez y Giruadier. p. 254. [8]

Additional reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Eugenio, Damiana L. (2008). Philippine Folk Literature An Anthology. University of the Philippines Press. p. 247. ISBN 978-971-542-536-0. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  2. ^ a b de los Reyes, Isabelo (1890). El Folk-Lore Filipino (in Spanish). Imprenta de Santa Cruz. pp. 66–69. ISBN 978-971-542-038-9. 
  3. ^ a b Añouevo, Victoria; Dandan-Albano, Kora (2004). Ang Tikbalang Kung Kabilugan ng Buwan. Quezon City: Adarna House, Inc. ISBN 978-971-508-250-1. 
  4. ^ Clark, Jordan "Tikbalang: The Horse Demon" Episode 01, Creatures Of Philippine Mythology (2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRUSBSJ39KY
  5. ^ Lourd de Veyra (4th Quarter, 1999). "Gen X Meets Tikbalang". FLY Magazine. Retrieved 2006-01-12.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Tan, Budjette. "Case 2: Rules of the Race." Trese: Murder on Balete Drive. Illust. Kajo Baldisimo. Pasay City: Visual Print, 2008.
  7. ^ the philippine islands 1493–1898. 1905. p. 269. 
  8. ^ Vocabulario de la lengua pampanga. 1860. 

External links[edit]