Ancient Philippine gold exhibit heads to NYC

NEW YORK – From jewelry to lavish ornaments, the Philippines’ golden past will be showcased in New York this fall.

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 beginning September 11.

Unknown to many, ancient filipinos in Kingdom of Butuan had a sophisticated culture with a fine taste for hand crafted gold items during the 10th and 11th centuries.

Community leader and philantropist Loida Nicolas Lewis said, “The Filipino, 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 Musem. Everybody went to see it. This is our King Tut.”

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 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 this exquisite Torso ornament called Upavita – which was worn by very high ranking datu or paramount chief over one shoulder and across the torso.

Florina Capistrano-Baker, curator of Ayala Museum, said, “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 Filipinos.”

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 new at Asia Society Museum in New York from September 11, 2015 through January 3, 2016.

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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