Ancestry Made Modern

July 02, 2016

Ancestry Made Modern

It's 4th of July weekend in the States and in Iceland they are gearing up for the football (that's soccer for our American friends) game versus France tomorrow. This Filipina girl and her parents sit in our short stay apartment in Reyjkavik enjoying the sunlight streaming through the windows. It's the middle of summer and they have midnight sun: the sun will set at 11:53 PM and rise again at 3:10 AM and in between, well, it doesn't get very dark at all! How crazy fun!

In our very global world, because of the internet, we are all connected more than ever before. It's fun to see some universal themes happening in cities all over the world: celebration of anything and everything local. While we are all more aware than we've ever been about what's happening outside our own backyards, we are also yearning to celebrate what's unique about our own homes.

I launched my Pilipinas collection on June 12. I picked that date on purpose because it is Philippine Independence Day, so it was a perfect time to celebrate some ancient design motifs from the Philippines, but reinterpreted with my own twist.

In the book Philippine Ancestral Gold by Florina H. Capistrano-Baker, John Guy and John N. Miksic, there are beautiful photographs of these necklaces. These beads are meant to look like "suso" which means snail in Filipino. These beads are particularly made to look like auger shells. You can see the intricate detail in these beads. Aside from the beads graduating in size, each one is also granulated on the top. There are various versions of this type of necklace available in the Ayala Collection of Philippine Gold, which can be viewed at the Central Bank Museum in Manila.

This is my version of the ling ling o, a symbol very common in the Mountain Province, in the northern part of the Philippines. It is said to symbolize fertility, with the inner holes depicting a fetus, as well as the bottom part with the slit depicting a uterus. The belief is that ancient spirits inhabit these symbols, and that they bring good luck to the wearers.

I plan to add more pieces to the Pilipinas collection in the future! Even though many people around the world know a little bit about our culture, it seems there is still a lot to learn about our ancient goldsmiths, craftspeople, artisans. While many of these artifacts remain inside glass cases in museums, we can certainly learn a lot about our ancestors by trying to figure out what inspired them, how they did things, who they were.

By doing so, I think we will learn a lot about ourselves as well. In our ever changing global interconnected world, the universal themes of art, creation and inspiration will keep us ever more grounded and connected with one another.

Hope you're all enjoying the summer! Or if you're in the southern hemisphere, winter! But no matter the weather where you are, don't forget to wear special jewelry!







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