The La Castilla Collection: A Photography Exhibition is now open for viewing at the 3rd Floor Foyer of the Ayala Centrio Mall, Cagayan de Oro City.

The exhibit features photos of Blue & White Chinese Heirloom Porcelain from the Ching & Ming Dynasties dating back to the 13the to 17th centuries and will run from February 13 to 28, 2023.

The fourteen photos feature a selection of blue and white antique jars from the Pelaez Family collection of the La Castilla Museum of Philippine Household Heirlooms and Antiques (The Rodolfo and Elsa Pelaez Family Memorabilia).

La Castilla Museum Curator Kelly Ramos. (RMB)

“This is one of the off-site programs of the museum where we fulfill the mandate of museums to make collections accessible to the public, while also keeping the objects safe and preserved in their cabinets,” said Kelly Ramos, Curator of the La Castilla Museum.

The La Castilla is a mid-20th century lifestyle museum of Philippine household heirlooms and antiques housing the Rodolfo and Elsa Pelaez Family Memorabilia in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

In his book, Rodolfo & Elsa Pelaez A 20th Century Legacy, author Nelson A. Navarro wrote:

“Elsa Pelaez managed to collect one of the biggest and most impressive collection of blue-and-white heirloom Chinese porcelain from the Ming and Ching dynasties during the 1950s ‘antiques boom’ from Muslim traders of Lanao, as well as from private collections and auctions from Cebu and Manila. These are now in the La Castilla Museum, along with later acquisitions of fine art from Europe and other parts of the world.”

“The Ming Dynasty is famous for its blue and white porcelain (1368–1644). Of all Chinese antiques, Ming porcelain is the most well-known, arguably the most valuable, and one of the most sought-after pieces of art. They are renowned for their beauty, deft craftsmanship, and intricate detail throughout the art world,” remarked Dr Chona R Echavez, director of Xavier University’s Research Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCU), who was the guest speaker during the exhibit’s launching on February 13.

Dr Chona R Echavez cuts the ribbon assisted by HISCOM Chair Nic Aca. (RMB)

“Ancient Mesopotamians created the first underglaze blue and white pottery in the fertile valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, not the Chinese (modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria). They imitated lapis lazuli using cobalt oxide, one of the few pigments that can withstand the highest firing temperatures. Later, during the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate (about 750 AD), blue and white pottery became extremely popular throughout the Middle East,” she added.

While not originating in China, blue and white porcelain, known as Qinghua (blue flowers), has become the most widespread porcelain, and China’s most famous china. This underglaze ceramic, decorated with blue pigment, normally cobalt oxide, has been produced for over 1,000 years (Jiang, 2021).

The color blue gained special significance in the history of Chinese ceramics during the Tang dynasty (618-907). The distinctive color in blue-glazed pottery and porcelain comes from cobalt ores imported from Persia, which were a scarce ingredient at the time and used in only limited quantities.

In the Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties in particular, different types of cobalt ore and methods of application determined the distinctive feature of the shades of blue that appeared on blue-and-white porcelain ware. (Ho, 2019)

La Castilla Museum at LIceo de Cagayan University.

Located along R.N. Pelaez Boulevard, Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City the La Castilla Museum is housed within the former summer residence of Atty. Rodolfo Neri Pelaez and Mrs. Elsa Pelaez, founders of Liceo de Cagayan University. Designed in the ornate Spanish Mediterranean style, it was built in 1968 within six hectares of land bordering the Cagayan River, and is now part of the Liceo de Cagayan University campus.

Echavez described how the historical structure had been in existence since 1968; first as a summer residence of the founders of Liceo de Cagayan University which became their permanent home after the 1976 earthquake in Mindanao, then as a museum at the turn of the millennium.

Some of the rare Chinese porcelain collection of La Castilla Museum.

In its collection are silverware, flatware, porcelain, brassware, woodworks, houseware, perfumery, glassware, porcelain jars and bowls, letters and purses, paintings and framed pictures, decorative items and illumination, dresses and gowns, toys, and vintage technology. There is also a well-kept garden, divided into themes: the tropical, Japanese, and classical-themed gardens.

“Cognizant of the need to bond with local history, art and culture, they opened La Castilla’s gates to all of us as a symbolic attempt to step back in time, an experience to recapture the life and times of a couple gone, but whose lifetime dedication to enrich the quality of life of every Kagay-anon through education, spiritual and general well-being, has transcended the limitless boundaries of time and space,” Echavez noted.

A string quartet from the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra renders a number during the exhibit launch. (RMB)

This exhibit is a project of the 18th Cultural Season of the Liceo Office of Cultural Affairs in celebration of the 68th Founding Anniversary of Liceo de Cagayan University and National Arts Month in the Philippines. It is mounted by La Castilla Museum in partnership with Liceo de Cagayan University, Ayala Malls, Ayala Centrio, Cagayan de Oro City Tourism & Cultural Affairs Office, Cagayan de Oro Historical & Cultural  Commission (HISCOM), Liceo Office of Cultural Affairs, Liceo Office of Communications and Promotions, and The Liceo Press.

The La Castilla Museum is open from Monday to Friday at 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Saturdays at 8:00 AM to 12:00 NN. It is located at Rodolfo N Pelaez Boulevard, Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

The exhibition team for this event is headed by Roger Odron (Project Director), with Kelly Ramos (Curator/Researcher/Writer), Jeikko Gomez (Photographer), Salvador dela Peña (Editor) and Reynan Lacaba (Graphic Designer).

For inquiries call 858-4090 local 188/ 09602205026/ 09162219949/ 09276484552(Museum Curator)


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