|St. Francis of Assisi Relicario|
Unlike vintage “estampitas”, “relicarios” have a more distinguished origin and history. These devotional items are said to emerge from the Medieval European custom of treasuring relics and mementos of saints. Many of these objects of devotion were kept in religious lockets and caskets fashioned and decorated with enameled silver and other precious metals and jewelries . Indeed, in some instances, these objects were treasured by their owners not only as souvenirs of their religious pilgrimages but also because of their belief that these could help and protect them in times of need and danger.
Later on, native artisans of these foreign countries added their own brand of artistry to create a simpler but likewise exquisite versions of the original. But, as expected, the designation became largely symbolical, since even during the late colonial days, relicarios were no longer expected to contain actual relics of saints and other religious personalities. However, lay persons of distinction continued to wear tiny bejeweled but relic-less relicarios to display their supposed piety and influence.
|St. Francis of Assisi Estampita|
Locally, a simpler but likewise artistic versions of relicarios have been designed by Pinoy artisans. Hand-made relicarios of varying shapes and sizes were fashioned from simple frames of wood, brass, tin, thick cardboards, etc., some with added loop at the top to provide suspension from a cord. Various religious imagery contained in relicarios were often made of silk embroideries, hand-painted and colored lithographs, embellished art works and rarely, of ivory. Mostly hand-made, the finished product bespeaks the special skill, artistry and imagination of its creator.
Some native nuns with artistic inclinations are likewise credited with having crafted some of the more intricately-designed relicarios , some of which are believed to be in the possession of the particular Orders to which they belong.
Vintage “estampitas”, on the other hand, are not really that rare. In fact, many can still be found in the provinces with most of them being in the hands of old but wealthy families known in the community for their religious fervor and piety.
For most Filipino faithfuls, “estampitas” hold special attraction not only because they appeal to the laymen’s religiosity and piety, but also because they are relatively cheap and readily available. For these reasons, they are commonly utilized as mementos or souvenirs and keepsakes on special family occasions like weddings, first communions and confirmations, birth and death anniversaries, Christmas reunions, etc.
The early “estampitas” were of foreign origin, while some were minted by the printing press of the religious orders. The more recent ones were printed locally.
Most of these tiny religious cards are eye-catching, multi-colored and intricately designed. Vintage copies are quaint and sumptuous creations richly-decorated with latticed embroidery or delicate paper lace which frames the principal figure or figures to be depicted – Jesus Christ, saints, angels, Virgin Mary, the Nativity, Sto Nino, etc. No one who appreciates beauty and desires a certain degree of affinity with the heavenly beings can resist the child-like charm of these vest-pocket devotional prints.
We can truly say, therefore, that either or both of these devotional articles – the relicarios and vintage estampitas – can fill the need of collectors who hopes to own a collection that combines aesthetic beauty with the uplifting touch of spirituality. By Jorge Delos Santos
|The Holy Family|
|Sacred Heart of Jesus|
|Temptation of Jesus Christ|
|Nino Jesus the Good Shepherd|
|Sto. Nino Jesus|
|Coronation of Virgin Mary in Heaven|
|Ascension of Virgin Mary to Heaven|
|Our Lady of the Light|
|First Communion Estampita|
|Annunciation of Angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary|