Lot #032
18th and 19th Century Ivory Crucifix On Silver Base
Ivory, Kamagong Wood and Silver
with stand: H:31 1/2” x L:12 1/4” x W:6 1/2” (80 cm x 31 cm x 17 cm) ivory: H:11 1/2” x L:9” x W:2” (29 cm x 23 cm x 5 cm)
Starting Bid : Php 200,000
HP + BP : Php 642,400
Every house during the colonial period had an altar with a cross, with the more affluent households having crucifixes with the corpus carved in wood or ivory. This ivory crucifix has a corpus beautifully carved in the Cristo Expirante pose or dying stance. It’s anatomically correct torso is in perfect condition with all the fingers intact. The hair and beard are finely detailed and the face of Christ with its mouth agape shows His agony. The carved perizonium or loincloth, locally called a bahag or tapis, is finely carved, especially the complex folds of the drapery of the loincloth which are edged by a pierced lace-like border reminiscent of 18th century Portuguese work. To the head of Christ are attached silver trespotencias, the three rays emanating from the pate that symbolize Christ’s potencies or power. A crown of thorns originally was on his brow, but is now missing.
The cross on which the image is attached is most unusual, because seldom does one see a kamagong cross inlaid, not with the usual line-inlay of lanite, a pale soft wood, but with twisted silver wire. Moreover, the base of the cross is not the usual wooden one composed of little mounds, but is a hexagonal one overlaid with silver and resting on six silver bun feet. The base is further decorated at the neck and the waist with narrow bands embossed and chased with a design of tiny beads flanked by a miniature rope-like border.
The plain kamagong cross with its silver inlay is embellished with hand-beaten silver cantoneras or terminals to which a ball finial is attached. The inner edges of the cantoneras are edged with an engraved and pierced acanthus border, while its flat surfaces are appliqued with a highly embossed and chased design of a flower flanked by symmetrical foliate scrolls. A silver scroll, embossed and chased with an INRI, is attached above the head of Christ, while a skull and crossed bones of beaten silver are appliqued below His feet. The skull is an allusion to Golgotha, ‘The Place of Skulls’, where Christ was crucified. Above the cross, attached by a silver spring to make it entremblant, is a glass disk surrounded by silver rays. A face painted behind glass represents the sun.
The cross is embellished with rays, or rayos, that surround the entire corpus like an oversized shield. The rays emanate from a central ovate portion appliqued with an elaborately embossed, chased, and pierced design very similar to those that decorated contemporary peinetas or combs of the highest quality. The workmanship is superb and was definitely executed by a master goldsmith. The rays are engraved with stippled lines and very fine bands of ropelike strips.
-Martin I. Tinio, Jr.