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Sagrada Familia con Urna, 19th Century, Filipino

Sagrada Familia con Urna, 19th Century, Filipino
Urna w/o lower baseUrna open doorSagrada FamiliaUrna BaseUrna Back
Click to enlarge image(s)
A 19TH CENTURY HISPANO-PHILIPPINE COLONIAL ALTAR (URNA, NICHE, NICHO) OF THE SAGRADA FAMILIA OR HOLY FAMILY
 
Mid to late19th century Philippine nicho locally called “Urna”. It is uncertain how the word urna evolved but it came from the word urn. It is a container or vase used to house cremated remains. In the religious sense it became what it means to be a small altar to house religious objects.
 
This URNA is an original coming from the Northern provinces of the islands specifically the Ilocos region. Certainty of its provenance is affirmed by the carving style, the wood and metal materials and paint finishing styles using local materials and dyes. The arched housing is made of high gauge tin and probably recycled from container cans because of the presence of product stamped indentations. The door hinges are hand made attesting that factory made hinges are not available in the area during that time. The door glass is a replacement. Note the contrasting colors of the door. This is original styling. The Ilocanos carved their urnas in deep relief and open foliate styles termed “Calado” by the locals which means open casework. There is much history in the method of carving and painting of Philippine santos, but we will not discuss that in detail and we will concentrate only on the Northern style. Close inspection of the method of finishing is the use of gesso, gold leaf and the abundant use of turmeric yellow. This is the trademark of paintwork in the province at that time. The wood used come from a local hardwood tree called Narra. This wood is very hard but will crack when exposed to a dry environment. Note the cracks on the wood.
 
If you look further underneath the base there is a large hand lettered “MANILA”. You will also find is a an old and tattered tag probably pasted in there during the 1940’s. It says “Surtag Forwarding Company, NY”. Upon researching the internet, we found an advertising label of this same company. The picture of this label will be included in this sale for additional authenticaton. Suffice it to say this forwarding company shipped it from Manila to New York and through the years this item was found in an estate sale in Palos Verdes, CA. The estate owner indicated that his mother bought it during the 60’s. Upon further research the main base should have a subbase as confirmed by the old nails still present at the base and pictures of similar Urnas we found in the internet. We built a removable subbase and put the original piece on top and surely enough, the piece looked perfect with it. Very few of these items still exists and if you are Spanish Colonial antique enthusiast, this is a great find! We have not seen anything like this with it’s door intact.
 
This Urna houses the “Sagrada Familia” Holy Family. The figures are very well preserved and has retained their vibrant colors with minor paint losses. All of them has lost their original hands as is normal for their age.
 
Dimensions: 28" Tall (25” w/o lower base) X 21" Wide X 7-5/8" Deep at base. Weight: 7 lbs.

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