Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I have always wanted an antique ivory Calvario tableau for my collection, but their availability—not to mention their prohibitive cost, have thwarted this dream. The closest I could get to owning one was when I purchased in Apalit, this part-ivory Crucifixion set. One look and you will know that it’s been put together—the wooden Christ with one outstretched arm, actually is part of a 2-character tableau that included the now-lost figure of St. Francis embracing Christ.

Two ivory santos have been redressed and added to the crucifix-- San Juan and a Dolorosa—which originally was a Magdalena. The two had ivory heads and hands (many missing fingers though). The santos were crammed in a primitive urna, and it is in this state that I bought them, with the intent of separating the two ivory figures and putting them on separate bases. This was what I actually did, with the help of expert santo restorer, Dr. Raffy Lopez. I gained two individual ivory santos but now lost a tableau!

 I forgot about owning a Calvario tableau until, this year, I chanced upon this antique wooden crucifix that was so badly disfigured and messed up with silver paint. But I really didn’t care much for the wooden Christ—it was the silver grabado cantoneras that appealed to me. The crucifix was set on what seemed to be its original base that simulated a stoney mound. Since I could afford it, I bought the crucifix and had it immediately restored.

A month and a half later, the Crucifix was returned to me—and the painted restoration stunned me.

 The new encarna showed the exceptional carving of the figure—from Christ’s pain-racked expression to his bloodied physique—one of the finest I’ve seen. Raffy had given me an old wig that fitted the Cristo perfectly.

Rummaging through my own stock of old santo stuff, I found a small silver thorny crown that also matched the head size of my crucified Christ.

Meanwhile, at the recent Greenhillas Antique Fair, I found an almost complete set of silver fittings for a standard crucifix, including these INRI and the symbolic sun with a face, with a spring mount.

From another old crucifix, I salvaged 3 silver potencias, which were of the right size for my Cristo. I was rather pleased with the result.

It was at this point that I toyed with the idea of assembling my own Calvario —using this completed and fully restored crucifix as the focal point of the tableau.

The ivory San Juan and Dolorosa were almost proportional in size to the crucified Christ and I figured they could be re-set on the original stoney mound where they could stand flanking the dying Christ figure. In the past, I have seen many Calvarios that featured wooden Christs matched with ivory Johns and Marys, so I thought I could do the same here.

Again, I took the ivories to Dr. Lopez who dismantled them from their bases and staged them on the restored base which had been raised to half an inch, then refinished and repainted.

 The final step was mounting the crucifix on the mound—and the pleasing results are on this page. The road to recreating my own Calvario is done. Consummatum est!!

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