(Excerpts from Chapter 2, The Arts of the Philippines 1521-1957, ed. By Winfield Scott Smith, Manila, 1958. Published by Associated Publishers, Inc. , p. 9, 14, 15).
A word should be said about sculpture in ivory. Unlike wooden sculpture, large numbers of old ivory have survived to our day. Their survival was caused, not only by their small size, but by the intrinsic value of the material involved.
On the whole, the ivory statuettes lack the vigor of their wooden brethren. Ivory lends itself to technical virtuosity, distracting to the spectator and apparently irresistible to the ordinary craftsman.
The worst examples replace expression with simple enumeration. They become mere catalogues, of eyebrows, toe nails, buckles and glass eyes with nothing in particular to hold them together as artistic statements.
The craftsmen who carved them were perhaps too skilful and copied their models over-conscientiously, putting manual dexterity over imagination.
As forms of artistic expression, the majority of these figurines are of little artistic and historical value, though they are pleasant enough in their Victorian quaintness, especially when furnished with glass eyes, real hair and elaborately embroidered robes that hide, more often than not, a wooden body.