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Art History of the Philippines-Pre-Colonial Era

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By Alison Kroulek
Monday, December 24, 2007

The people of the Philippines are the heirs of an artistic tradition that dates back to long
before the first European stepped foot on the island soil. Some of these ancient arts, such
as wood carving, weaving and folk dance, are still practiced today. However, Filipino art has
also expanded over time to include more Western practices, such as painting in both
classical and modern styles. Today, the blend of different cultures found in the Philippines
nourishes a thriving art scene.
The earliest examples of Philippine art include carvings of gods and
goddesses(anitos), ceremonial masks, and other artifacts.[1][2] Even today, some of these
ancient art forms are still practiced. For example, the Ifugao people are known for their
exquisite woodcarvings, while the Badjo people of Mindanao are esteemed for the colorful
weaving. Another ancient Philippines art form was the intricate, full body tattoos worn by
the Visayans, who were known as the painted people to the Spanish.
Another ancient art form that has experienced renewed popularity is traditional folk
dance. Long before the Spanish colonized the islands, native Filipinos used dances to
celebrate important community events, such as harvest and weddings. Many of these folk
dances are still practiced today. For example, many traditional dance troops keep this
ancient art alive. Some of these performers, including the Bayanihan, Filipinescas,
Barangay, and Hariraya groups have received international acclaim.[3]
Of course, traditional music was and is an essential accompaniment to traditional
dance. Music is another art form that pre-colonial indigenous Filipinos were accomplished
in. Native cultures had their own distinct instruments and styles of music. For example, in
the northern islands, traditional indigenous music has much in common with Asian gong
music, and utilizes a type of gong called a gangsa.[4] The southern islands also have their
own distinctive style of music, featuring a type of native orchestra known as
the Kulintanga. The instrument that carries the melody in the Kulintanga orchestra is called
a kulintang. Basically, the kulintang is a series different-sized gongs laid side-by-side and
played with wooden sticks.[5] In the kulintanga orchestra, it is joined by other instruments
such as the dadabuan(a type of drum), the agong(a bass gong), and another type of gong
called the gandingan. The orchestra plays 3 major types of music, usually in the following
order. The first type of musical piece is the haunting, mournful binalig. This is usually
followed by the sinulog, which is evocative of passionate emotions such as love or anger.
Finally, there is the tidtu, which is a piece that showcases the talent of the musicians-
basically a jam session.[6] Amazingly, none of the pieces have been written down-they are
passed along by the examples of elders and can only be learned by listening and then
trying to play.
The traditional folk arts of the Philippines display a tremendous amount of skill and
creativity. These arts would change with the coming of the Spanish, and later the
Americans. However, even though the arrival of foreign influences changed the artistic
culture forever, many of the ancient native arts have thankfully survived intact.

[1] "Philippines." Encyclopdia Britannica. 2017 2007. Encyclopdia Britannica Online. 5


13 Nov. 2017 2007 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-23753>.
[2] http://www.admu.edu.ph/offices/mirlab/panublion/islas.html
[3] "Philippines." Encyclopdia Britannica. 2017 2007. Encyclopdia Britannica Online. 5
16 Nov. 2017 2007 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-23753>.
[4] http://ezinearticles.com/?Music-and-Art-of-the-Philippines&id=640950
[5] http://members.aol.com/TaraCelest/kulintang_instruments.html
[6] http://members.aol.com/TaraCelest/kulintang_instruments.html

Copyright 2006-2010 Dougs Dream Inc.

Timeline of Philippine Art


Introduction
TheNationalMuseum,inpursuanceofitsmandateofpreservingandprotectingNationalCultural
Treasuresandimportantculturalpropertiesofthenation,maintainsareferencecollectiononthevisual
arts through the Arts Division. This entire art collection constitutes a large portion of the artistic
patrimonyofthenationandoneofourlegaciestothecominggenerations.Nowtotaling1,032,the
collectioniscomposedofeaselpaintings,sculptures,icons,sketchesandmixedmedia,andspanthe18th
centurytothelate21stcentury.Allareinventoried,accountedforandcertifiedbytheCommissionon
Audit.However,thereareartworksinthecollectionthatarestillundergoingaccessionproceedings.The
Divisionundertakesandsupervisestheperiodicinspectionandmaintenanceunderthesupervisionofan
artconservator.ThevisualartcollectionoftheNationalMuseumservesasaperpetualchronicleofthe
developmentofPhilippineartandashowcaseoftheachievementsandaspirationsofFilipinovisual
artists. One can also refer to the collection for topics ranging from Philippine history and natural
landscapestosocialconcernsandpersonalexpressions.The15artworksfeaturedinthishandbookwere
chosenasarepresentativesampleofthebestartworkscreatedbyunknownartistsofthe18thcentury,
19thcenturymasters,nationalartistsforthevisualartsaswellastheleadingcontemporarypaintersand
sculptors.Theuniquenessofthestyle,theprestigeoftheartist,andthesignificanceoftheartworkinthe
developmentofPhilippineartaretheprimarycriteriaintheselection.

Timeline of Philippine Art


18thCentury

Earliestamongthecollectionarereligiousinthemesandcomposedof18thcenturyiconsandimages
createdbylocalartisansunderthetutelageofthefriars.Thedevotionalpiecesofthecollectionareof
outstandingsignificance.
Coronationofthevirgin

19thCentury

DuringthelateSpanishcolonialperiod,theschoolofAcademismorsalonpaintingemergedand
producedthelikesofJuanN.LunaandFelixResurreccionHidalgo,whoarenowconsideredas19th
centurymasters.
Spolarium
GovernorDasmarinas

1900s

InthesucceedingAmericanperiod,FernandoC.Amorsolo,whowaslaterdeclaredastheFirstNational
Artist,roseintofameandestablishedhisownstyleorschoolwhichwaslargelycharacterizedby
countrysidescenerywithgoldensunlight.
LaDescenciondeJesus

2000topresent

Philippinearthascomealongway,fromtheprimitiveingenuityoftheFilipinostothepresentavante
gardeartistsexploringallpossibletechniquesandschoolsrangingfromthetraditionalists,
representationalists,abstractionists,abstractexpressionists,semiabstractionists,figurativeexpressionists,
nonobjectivistsandotherformsofisms.

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