Where is the setting of the origin of this world(maranao)?


The Maranao people, an indigenous group from the Philippines, have a rich cultural and mythological heritage. One of their most notable myths is the "Origin of This World," which is set in the mystical realm of the Maranao cosmology.

The setting of the Maranao origin myth is primarily in the upper world, known as "Ibabawan," and the lower world, called "Lupan." These worlds are connected by a cosmic tree known as "Nalundasan," which serves as a bridge between the realms of gods, spirits, and humans.

Ibabawan (Upper World)

In the upper world, there exists the realm of the gods and celestial beings. This world is characterized by its beauty, grandeur, and divine presence. It is where the god, Bantogen, along with other deities, resides. This realm is often depicted as a place of light, prosperity, and harmony, untouched by the imperfections of the mortal world.

Lupan (Lower World)

In contrast, the lower world is a more complex and layered realm. It includes both the physical world where humans live and the underworld. The physical world, or "Katawhan," is rich in natural resources and beauty, reflecting the Maranao people's appreciation of their environment, particularly the picturesque Lake Lanao, which plays a central role in their daily lives and spiritual beliefs.

Nalundasan (Cosmic Tree)

The cosmic tree, Nalundasan, symbolizes the connection and balance between the upper and lower worlds. It is through this tree that deities and spirits can traverse between realms, influencing both the natural and supernatural events in the human world.

Symbolic Locations

Other significant locations in the myth include the "Torogan" or royal houses, which are not just physical structures but also symbolize the political and social organization of the Maranao people. These houses are often depicted as places where major events and decisions affecting the world occur.

In summary, the setting of the Maranao myth "The Origin of This World" spans across a cosmological framework comprising the divine upper world, the earthly lower world, and the bridging cosmic tree. This setting underscores the interconnectedness of the spiritual and physical realms in Maranao culture and their worldview.

The Role of Natural Features

Lake Lanao, the second largest lake in the Philippines, holds a special place in the Maranao origin myth and their cultural identity. It is not just a geographical feature but also a spiritual entity believed to be the dwelling place of powerful spirits and deities. The lake is central to their creation story, symbolizing life, sustenance, and the source of the Maranao people's existence. The surrounding landscapes, including the mountains and forests, are also imbued with spiritual significance, reflecting the Maranao's reverence for nature and their environment.

Cultural Context and Symbolism

In the Maranao worldview, the mythological settings are not merely backdrops but integral parts of their cultural narrative. The upper world, lower world, and the cosmic tree collectively represent the interconnectedness of life, death, and the divine. These elements highlight the Maranao belief in balance and harmony within the universe. The cosmic tree, Nalundasan, for instance, is a powerful symbol of continuity and connection, indicating that the fate of all realms is intertwined.

Maranao Architecture and Society

The Torogan, the traditional royal house of the Maranao sultan or datu, serves as a microcosm of their society within the mythological setting. These grand structures are adorned with intricate okir (geometric and flowing designs) and sarimanok (mythical bird motifs), reflecting the artistry and cultural pride of the Maranao people. In the context of the origin myth, the Torogan is not just a physical space but also a center of power, culture, and spirituality, where the gods' will is manifested and human affairs are governed.

Religious and Ritual Practices

The Maranao's rituals and religious practices are deeply influenced by their mythological setting. Ceremonies often involve invoking the spirits and deities of Lake Lanao and the cosmic tree. The presence of these sacred elements in their rituals signifies the ongoing relationship between the Maranao people and the supernatural world. Festivals, dances, and oral traditions frequently depict stories from their creation myth, ensuring the transmission of these cultural values and beliefs to future generations.


The setting of the Maranao origin myth is a complex and richly detailed tapestry that reflects the deep spiritual and cultural values of the Maranao people. The upper world, lower world, and the cosmic tree together create a framework that explains the origins of the world and the interconnectedness of all life. This setting is more than just a backdrop for mythological stories; it is a reflection of the Maranao's profound connection to their environment, their deities, and their heritage. Through this myth, the Maranao people express their worldview, highlighting the importance of balance, harmony, and respect for both the seen and unseen forces that shape their existence.

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