This exhibit presents the Immaculate Conception in small scale wood and ivory sculpture during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. From the folk renditions to the classic interpretations, these images signify how Filipinos perceived Mary most pure, conceived without sin; the prophesized virgin who will give birth of the Redeemer of Mankind.
Due to the Immaculate Conception's popularity, many images of her in painting and sculpture were commissioned. Here, she is depicted with gracefully draped robes, with hands posed in prayer, a distinctive gesture of representations of the Immaculate Conception. The curved stance is common among ivory sculptures, following the shape of the tusk. The head is meant to be furnished with a wig.
Her half-closed eyes and the upward slant of her lips lend an air of youth and innocence in the figure. Despite its flattened appearance and the stiff carving of the hands, the carver was inventive enough to add touches of grace to her mantle and the cuffs of her tunic (Gatbonton 1983). She stands on a crescent moon surrounded by a whirl of cloud.
The next six images show a series of interpretations of La Purisima dressed in 17th century Spanish court fashion. The extended bodice hangs below the waist, often scalloped or decorated with lace. The vertical line in the center indicates the borders of the closed overskirt. The cape falls steadily and symmetrically completing the aura of calm composure of the image in contrast to other renditions of the Immaculate Conception that shows dynamism through wind swept drapings.
Polychromed image of the Immaculate Conception in softwood. Hands folded in prayer, she stands on a cloud base with separately carved horns and a cherub with a flattened head. The folds of her garments are carved in a fall of uniform lines. The pyramidal form of the image is reminiscent of the 17th century Spanish courtwear clad models.
The serpent under Mary's feet signifies the curse that God uttered to the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel" (Gen 3:15). This is interpreted as the prophecy of the salvific act of Christ, Mary's seed, who one day shall defeat the rigin of all evil and save mankind from eternal damnation.
Carved out of hardwood and mounted on a base with three cherubs and vertical horns of the crescent moon. The figure is carved to include a cloak which billows out to the right in a separately carved piece of wood. Hands are missing. Traces of polychrome still visible. Trained hands of the carver is evident in the beautiful execution of the vestment folds.
A version of the Imaculate Conception bearing Chinese influences in craftsmanship as seen in the form of the eyes. The snake at the Virgin's feet is portrayed with an anthropomorphic face, notably with a set of teeth rather than fangs. She is adorned with a gold aureole of twelve stars and closed gold crown with rays emanating from the side bands.