Friday, 25 December 2015

Making Nativity "Native-ity"

Making Nativity "Native-ity"

Inspired by western depictions of that Middle Eastern event, Filipino artists seemed inspired, and compelled to create depictions that reflects Christian faith in a Filipino setting such as those of a romanticised peasantry.

Likely being made in the mid-20th century, these artworks featured Filipino peasant attire, be it the straw hat or the Salakot, the Camisa de Chino and Peasant Trousers for men, as well as Kamison for women along with the veil reflecting the peasant wife's image as those of the Virgin Mary.

Besides those of the Carabao, Goats, Chickens, took place of the Sheep and Horses. Bethlehem became a barrio, and the Manger be situated at the tenant's stables where animals gathered to see the blessed couple taking care of the young Christ.

To add further cultural flavour of the isles, the so-called "Three Wise Men" or "Three Kings" seemed represented by those who represent the three major island groups of the Philippines: An Ifugao chieftain representing Luzon, a Visayan Cabeza representing Visayas, and a Moro Vizier representing Mindanao. These three prominent beings expressed reverence to the newborn King as they offered Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, that symbolises Christ as King, God, and Man. 

Quite nice to see the Nativity, or rather say "Native-ity" as it features biblical characters as "idealised" typical Filipinos. From the peasant-like setting to those of the "Three Kings" as Cordilleran chieftains or Moro viziers, the artists wanted to show that in a Christian country like the Philippines, they also want to show to the world that not all paintings depicting the Nativity has to be "western-centric" such as those from the Louvre or the National Museum of Art. 

Furthermore, the Nativity in the Filipino setting also showed the Filipino's yearness for Unity and Peace; but for this person's take, and maybe through the eyes of these artists involved in those artworks, that Unity and Peace is being rooted from Justice, as represented by the newborn Christ.