Abu Dhabi officials led by Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana and community members at the Grand Vestibule of Louvre Abu Dhabi where a 10th-century gold funerary mask is exhibited.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Filipinos, including social media influencers, are excited over the exhibition of two gold artifacts from 10th to 13th century Philippines at the Louvre Abu Dhabi which celebrates its fifth anniversary this November.
“Just imagine how even the ordinary Pinoys (of that era) drank from this (gesturing at the cup),” gushed Pepperreu.
Alawe Enoc of Al Ain: “I am really honoured to witness a history of the Philippines and to meet Ambassador Quintana was an opportunity. Such wonderful pieces of gold from the 10th century and displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, I am proud of the Philippines.”
Dubai resident Charlene Bello: “Witnessing them first hand is amazing. It brings honour and pride to our motherland. It is Louvre Abu Dhabi.”
Noora from Dubai: “While studying and learning about the ancient history of the Philippines, these two gold artifacts caught my attention as these showcase the Philippines’ goldsmith skills from early ages, at the very popular (museum) to indicate Philippine rich gold culture.”
Community leader in Al Ain Wilbert Cantor: “These surely give us connectivity to the world. I have come to love more our identity.”
Part of the permanent gold exhibition of the 1967-established Filipino ethnographic and archeological Ayala Museum in Makati City, Metro Manila, the cup was unearthed from the town of present-day Nabua in Camarines Sur Province of the Bicol Region in Southern Luzon Island.
The funerary mask was dug from the present-day Masao, a village in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte Province in Northern Mindanao Island.
First time in this part of the world, these were among the collection of 100 relics at the four-month “Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms” held at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City until January 3, 2016, one of the movers of which was New York-based Ayala Foundation Inc.-International Operations/Consulting curator/Project consultant Florentina “Nina” Capistrano-Baker, former Ayala Museum director whose father, Pablo Capistrano was the Philippines’ Bureau of Mines-Geology Department head who surveyed the Philippine regions with rich gold deposits.
The mask is on display alongside those excavated in Peru and in Lebanon or Syria at the Grand Vestibule, the major gallery at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The cup is at the Wing 2 which recounts world religions and timelines Asian trade routes. It sits along daily meal vessels from the ninth century Tang or Liao Dynasty and 12th century Yuan Dynasty of China and Inner Mongolia.
Prior to the tour, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana, expressed her gratefulness to the UAE leadership, Culture and Youth Minister Noura Bint Mohammed Al Kaabi and to the Louvre Abu Dhabi team, pointing out that having ancient Philippine treasures be considered at the museum bespeaks of a rich contribution to humanity. She read from the “Philippine Ancestral Gold” coffee-table book of Nina Capistrano.
The book took from the “chronicles” of Italian Antonio Pigafetta who accompanied Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan in his circumnavigation of the world from Spain in search of spices over 500 years back: “In the island of that king who came to the ship are mines of gold which is found by digging from the earth large pieces as large as walnuts and eggs.
And all the vessels he uses are likewise of gold as also some parts of his house. And he was the most handsome person whom we saw among those peoples. He had very black hair to his shoulders with a silk cloth on his head and two large gold earrings hanging from his ears. He wore a cotton cloth embroidered with silk which covered him from his waist to his knees.
At his side he had a dagger with a long handle all of gold, the sheath of which was a carved wood. (He wore perfumes). He was tawny and painted all over. His island is called Butuan.”
Ayala Museum Senior curator/Conservation head Kenneth Esguerra on June 25, two days before the installations, mentioned to Gulf Today of the once-mighty 10th to 11th century Kingdom of Butuan (Rajahnate of Butuan) that was recorded to be well-established and popular for its highly-sophisticated gold mining and related industry as well as shipbuilding that traded between and among the inhabitants of the present-day Japan, China and other Southeast Asian countries. He believes the Philippines was conquered because of its gold.
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