By Sherwin Marion T. Vardeleon
An exhibit at the University of Santo Tomas Museum of Arts and Sciences displays the longest known ivory corpus in the Philippines, the “Crucifixion of Christ,” the same figure included in the October 2012 issue of the National Geographic that exposed the alleged thriving illegal trade in ivory icons in the Philippines.
The icon has been described in various exhibit catalogues as the “finest and largest” of its kind.
But the exhibit, “Ars Eboris Sacri (Art of Sacred Ivory): Ivory and Controversy,” seeks to correct the wrong impression made by the National Geographic that the UST’s Crucified Christ was made after the ban on worldwide ivory trade by an international convention in 1989.
The icon was made in the 19th century, along with nine other exquisite ivory items in the exhibit, some of them even having been made in the 17th century, said UST Museum director Fr. Isidro Abaño, OP.
UST has complained to the international publication about the inclusion of the photograph of the Crucified Christ in its report without providing the information that the icon was actually made in the 19th century.
It’s no secret that UST keeps the largest known ivory corpus in its vast collection of sacred art, university officials said. UST has the oldest museum in the Philippines and the university itself is the oldest in Asia.
In fact, the icon has been loaned for various exhibits to museums here and abroad as an example of Spanish colonial art and Catholic cultural patrimony.
When it is not on loan, it hangs in the museum’s Hall of Religious Images which is open to the public, officials added. More....