HomeThe Mindanao Forumvol. 25 no. 2 (2012)

The Salsila

Rita Tuban

Discipline: Humanities



The Salsila or the Family tree from the Arabic “Silsilah” is the written genealogy of the Tausug nobility. It contains heroic deeds and significant events. It is jealousy kept by the Sulu nobility and is written in the jawi (Arabic) script (see page 3). If one claims to be a royal datu or chooses to be a sultan, the salsila serves as a proof that he is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad, though the first Sultan of Sulu. Sultan Sharif ul Hashim Abubakar (r, 1450-1480). Today the salsila is recited in the homes of the elite for the instruction of the datus and sultans’ children.


According to Tan, the sarsilas and luntars are royal genealogies and annals and were written in the native language or jawi, although some recent sarsilas such as the one in the possession of the Datu Tuban Family of Jolo have appeared in the modern script. These sources, by their very nature, were therefore, confined in usage and influence to the ruling sector of society and were not within the access of the Muslim masses. The sources were never reproduced for mass consumption but were closely guarded and kept for the exclusive benefits of the royal class (1982:112).