From an Augustinian Church in Eastern Pampanga and from thence, to an important private collection, (acquired by a distinguished collector in 1984 from an old Pampanga family who had owned it since the 1863 earthquake).
This refectory table in golden narra wood has a floating top in a mitred frame. The top is supported by an undulating apron carved with foliar motifs. The four legs are carved with grotesque masques and ball and claw feet on plinths connected by stretchers from one leg to the next. The colloquial term “dinemonyo” is derived from the grotesque masques of these tables. The masques are derived from representations of the Asian goddess Kala. It is possible that the original design of these tables which are originally of Chinese and then of South East Asian origin may have filtered to Manila and environs through the Chinese trade or through the Muslim trade through the Southern islands.
This piece dates from the 1600s and comes from an Augustinian Church in Eastern Pampanga (first built with stone in 1641.) A refectory table such as this was usually found in the convento or in the sacristy of the church. In the convento, it was used as a dining table by the priest. In the sacristy, it was used to lay-out the heavily embroidered vestment used by the priest for the holy mass.
These refectory tables with grotesque masques with ball and claw feet were standard furniture in Churches and convents since the late 16th century/late 1500s. These large ornate tables were mentioned in church inventories and travel chronicles since those times.
The most important examples of these refectory tables are the six tables at the University of Sto Tomas. There is also an important example at the
Church of Calasiao Pangasinan. There is also a refectory table from Minalin Church in Pampanga now at the Archdiocesan Museum. There is a complete set of excceliseatical furniture at this Betis Church Pampanga. A Magnificent and unusually large example in golden narra wood was found by Osmundo Esguerra in a derelict building in downtown Manila about 15 years ago. It is
now in the Paulino and Hetty Que collection.