Philippine Ecclesiastic Art in Ivory

By Intramuros Administration

This exhibit presents an array of religious images in ivory crafted in Spanish colonial Philippines from the 17th to 19th centuries. The sequence shows the development in craftsmanship from the time of the Chinese artisans in the Philippines to the period of trained Filipino craftsmen during the last decades of the Spanish occupation.

Her half-closed eyes and the upward slant of her lips lend an air of innocence in the figure. Despite its flattened appearance and the stiff carving of the hands, the carver was able to add touches of grace to her mantle. (Gatbonton 1983).

Immaculate Conception by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Here, Mary is depicted with gracefully draped robes, with hands posed in prayer, a distinctive gesture of representations of the Immaculate Conception. The head is meant to be furnished with a wig.

Immaculate Conception by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

As with the other images of the Virgin Mary in this exhibit, one may observe the tuck at the back. Theoretically, this was applied by Filipino artists to bestow a secret sign of nobility to images of Mary. (Jose and Villegas, 2004)

Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Madonna and Child crafted in the 17th century. Additional material were attached, held in place by pegs, to add layer and depth to the Virgin's garment.

Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

A well detailed carving of Christ. Note primitive proportions of the body, the goat like appearance of the lower half of the face and beard and the fine carving of the lush hair. He stands on a polychromed base rounded with trefoil design.

Baptism of Christ by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Her exquisitely carved tunic and mantle are painted with floral motif. Her robes, as well as her hair were originally painted with gold dust. The Virgin's ears are pierced to allow for earrings.

Immaculate Conception by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

An image of the Virgin standing on clouds and a cherub head. The original crescent moon horns are missing. Her garments are adorned in gold leaf designs. There are also traces of gold leaf on her hair.

Immaculate Conception by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

A highly discolored piece of ivory carving bearing the same attributes of the earlier examples of the Immaculate conception.

Immaculate Conception by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

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.

Immaculate Conception by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

The Sorrowful Mother. Traces of gold leaf floral decorations may be observed on the robe and borders of the garments. The meticulous lace edging on the mantle is admirable considering the small size of this piece (Jose and Villegas, 2004).

Our Lady of Sorrows by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Here is an image of St. Francis, a rare representation of a Jesuit saint. His hands are in a gesture of opening his clothes apart; metaphorically exposing his heart burning with the desire to win all souls for Christ.

St. Francis Xavier by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

The exaggerated cowl and elongated neck heightens the effect of asceticism and other-worldliness. Its robes are adorned with gold leafed floral decorations, which may have been a later addition (Jose and Villegas, 2004).

St. Anthony of Padua by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

This image is exceptionally well carved showing fine details in its features, robes, girdle and lacework borders. The lacework on the borders of its cape is typical of Portugese work from Goa, India (Gatbonton and Tinio, 1982).

St. Anthony of Padua by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

St. Joseph became popular in the Philippines. He is often with the Christ child and the blooming staff. This piece is adorned with gold leafed designs on the hem of the robe. Note that the body was carved with the ivory base in one piece.

St. Joseph with the Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Another popular depiction of St. Joseph highlights him being a simple laborer. St Joseph is shown here holding the hand of his foster son Jesus while the latter holds a basket of tools. The piece is enhanced with gold leaf decorations.

St. Joseph with the Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

The figure of the Child Jesus reaches for the hand of St. Joseph while his other hand holds a large basket of tools.

St. Joseph with the Child Jesus (Child Jesus) by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

A finely carved Madonna and Child, bearing a very subtle contrapposto attitude. The same subtlety may be observed in the rendering of the drapery of the vestments, the detailing of the hair and the facial expression.

Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Mary carrying the Child Jesus is dressed in a tunic with a simple upper portion balanced off by its busy lower folds (Gatbonton, 1983). The holes around the Virgin's head used to have pegs to hold a wig in place (Gatbonton and Tinio, 1982).

Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Part of a tableaux. She radiates beauty in the midst of anguish. Notice the deeply folded robes and finely serrated mantle edges. Notice the difference of heavy and light fabrics as seen in the treatment of the robes as opposed to the wimple.

Our Lady of Sorrows by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Partner to the Sorrowful Virgin. The face of John has the same poignant sadness. The depth of his grief is measured by the outside handkerchief he presses against his face. The left hand appears rigid with tension (Gatboton,1983).

St. John the Baptist by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

An image of the Sorrowful virgin forming part of a crucifixion tableaux. The nun like wimple confining her tiny face draws attention to her grief stricken face. She appears encumbered by the heavy folds of her mantle (Gatbonton, 1983).

Our Lady of Sorrows by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Paired with the Sorrowful Virgin, the image bears the classic pose of St. John at the foot of the cross, with the right hand on the chest to signify his empathy. Note the effort of the carver to instill wrinkles on his contorted forehead.

St. John the Baptist by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

An image with well-defined facial features. The hands, bearing the marks of the stigmata are delicately done with the robe and cloak detailed in folds and drapes. The crucifix in its right hand is missing. He wears the rope with three knots.

St. Francis of Asisi by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

An image of St. Peter carved in a single piece of ivory. The brilliance of the gilding is typical of Vigan pieces where ticker gold leaf seems to have been used. The image is paired with silver rooster (not shown here).

St. Peter the Apostle by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

An interesting piece from the Visayan region. The position of the left hand is peculiar. His intricately carved penitent face gazes upward, expressing remorse over his denial of Jesus. He holds the silver gilt keys.

St. Peter the Apostle by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

A finely carved image of St. Joseph. The good condition of the polychromy highlights the handsome face. A hat dangles at the back of the image, signifying that St. Joseph and the Child Jesus are on a journey.

St. Joseph with the Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Carved with a voluminous robe and cape indicating that it was carved from a huge portion of ivory. The carver had the liberty of fully extending the right elbow and separating the feet widely to give St. Paul his dignified pose.

St. Paul the Apostle by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

His left hand holds the blossoming staff while the other reaches for the hand of the child Jesus. On his chest is a knot formed by two ends of a tasseled cord. This indicates that a traveler's hat hangs on his back, though concealed by his cloak.

Holy Family - St. Joseph by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Mary's figure in the Holy Family tableaux carved in the Baroque tradition. Her mantle goes all the way up to veil her head and falls gracefully on her tunic. The other end of her mantle is tucked in her right arm. Note also her closed shoes.

Holy Family - Virgin Mary by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

The figure of the Child Jesus with both arms outstretched. His waistcord is tied in a bow in front, which can also be observed on the figures of Mary and Joseph is a convention of the Flemish school (Jose and Villegas, 2004).

Holy Family - Child Jesus by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

Three figures forming part of a Nativity Scene. The Virgin Mary, and two kneeling figures of native peasants adoring the Infant Jesus. The image of the child Jesus supposed to be seated on Mary's lap or carried in her arms is missing.

Nativity Scene - Virgin Mary by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

The pregnant woman is a particularly interesting part of the tableaux. Her coiled hair and lose camisole identifies her as an 'india', a term applied to natives of the Spanish colonies.

Nativity Scene - Pregnant Woman by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

A man, probably a shepherd or a farmer, wearing a short tunic with gold-leafed girdle. He bows low to create three heights in the composition.

Nativity Scene - Shepherd by DigiScriptIntramuros Administration

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