Ancient PH gold exhibit heads to New York

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jul 15 2015 12:47 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2015 09:19 PM

NEW YORK – About 120 gold artifacts mostly from the golden age of Butuan, a city in the Southern Philippines, will be on display at the Asia Society Museum in New York beginning September 11.

Ancient Filipinos in Kingdom of Butuan had a sophisticated culture with a fine taste for handcrafted gold items during the 10th and 11th centuries.

"The Filipinos, before they were called Filipino, were making beautiful, artistic, exquisite jewelry from gold. So it’s like King Tut of Egypt being discovered and coming to the Metropolitan Museum. Everybody went to see it. This is our King Tut," said Community leader and philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis.

Organizers of "Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms" were recently at the Philippine Consulate in New York to promote the exhibit.

"We are aiming for spectacular, not just a special this fall," Tom Nagorski, executive vice president of Asia Society said.

Some of the interesting treasures that will be on display is a half-woman half-bird gold vessel known as mythical creature "Kinnari".

Ancient Pinoys wore shimmering belts or waistbands using loop in loop techniques.

The exhibit will also highlight an exquisite Torso ornament called Upavita, worn by very high ranking datu or paramount chief over one shoulder and across the torso.

"We are so very grateful to the Ayala Museum, Central Bank of the Philippines, and the Locsin Family for allowing the gold to travel outside the Philippines to be exhibited for the first time here in the US to share with our overseas Filipino Americans," said Florina Capistrano-Baker, curator of Ayala Museum.

But organizers say the value of the collection is off limits to the public.

Adriana Proser, senior curator for Asia Society, said, "One of the ways to help secure is not to announce the value of all the objects or to divulge the details where to secure the object".

Round-the-clock security will be maintained at the Asia Society Museum to secure the gold artifacts from the moment they arrive in New York until it returns to the Philippines.

"Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms" will be on display in the Asia Society Museum in New York from September 11, 2015 through January 3, 2016.

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