Wednesday, February 22, 2017


OUR LADY OF THE HOLY ROSARY. De Jesus family. by Maximo Vicente
By Nancy T. Lu  /  Photos by Ben Santos
Originally appeared on The Sunday Time Magazine, 16 February 1969 issue. pp. 26-27

The art of decoration by means of needle and thread is an ancient one. But what remained most fascinating is the needlework done in genuine gold.

Elaborate embroideries of fine floral pattern generally adorn the vestments of religious sttaues gracing the altars and the affluent homes of today. The glitter of gold somehow never fails to catch the attemtion of the human eye because of its richness. The leaves and the flowers  as a continuous sheet of burnished metal.

Such an observation calls for a closer scrutiny leading to the discovery that gold threads and lintejuelas are used artistically for decorative purposes.

Fine needlework in the making is shown here as four trained sewers from
the shop of Maximo Vicente embroider gold designs on the silk foundation
material stretched on the embroidery frame.

Gold threads passed and sewn at intervals vary considerably in structure and quality. A closer look that they are made by winding a high-carat gold around some silk thread. Mrs. Soledad Vicente from the shop of Maximo Vicente announced that she uses only threads imported from France. This, in some ways, accounts for the forbidding cost of ordering a santo for private use or for the church.

Furthermore, the gold leafing process used, for instance, on the Our Lady of Guadalupe in Pagsanjan makes it all the more expensive but pious individuals who are devotees of the of the Blessed Mother do not exactly mind the cost.

Some four sewers expertly-trained in the artwork on the embroidery of one assignment for months. Different kinds of stitches are tried after the silk or velvet foundation material has been stretched and temporarily sewn to an embroidery frame.

Designs are patterned after  that of antiques. Enterprising sewers try out original floral patterns. In some cases, the gold embroidery is lifted from centuries-old santos and transferred elsewhere because the original foundation materials fails to survive the onslaught of time.

Embroidering in gold used to be an uncontested preoccupation of nuns in convents. Gradually, lay families took to the trade. To date the tallere de Maximo Vicente which was established in 1908, has tuned out a good number of religious images found in parishes all over the archipelago.

Its most recently-completed commissioned jobs include the Our lady of the Rosary which has a height of one meter and sixty centimeters, including the base. It was finished in time for the fiesta of San Fernando, Pampanga. An even bigger finished work is the Our Lady of Guadalupe statue, roughly 2 meters in size with a diamond studded diadem for its crowning glory.The residents of Pagsanjan are proud of it.

French-imported gold threads varying in structure and quality
are used to bring the fine floral patterns on the vestments
of our Lady of the Rosary.

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