Wednesday, October 1, 2008

30. 1913 LAS DIADEMAS REALES: Carnival Crowns

For the 1913 Carnival Queens, exquisite, jewel-studded crowns were made by the famed engraver’s workshop of Crispulo Zamora (b. 10 June 1871). Crispulo was the son of Mauricio Zamora and Gervasia Guzman. He learned the rudiments of engraving at his father’s shop in Quiapo and was later enrolled at the Esuela de Dibujo y Pintura, studying painting (under Lorenzo Rocha), engraving (under Melecio Figueroa) and casting (under Felix Martinez).

Married to Pelagia Mendoza, herself an accomplished artist. At the 1895 regional exposition of the Philippines, he won a prize for a portrait bust he submitted for the arts competition. The couple took over the shop when Crispulo’s father died and grew the business, making metal products from military decorations to buttons and insignias for many institutions. The shop also created plaques and religious crowns for images—the crown of the Virgen de Penafrancia of Naga was one such product.

Soon, Crispulo Zamora was being commissioned to make the bulk of medals, trophies and crowns for the annual Manila Carnivals. The most spectacular crowns that he created were perhaps those of the 1913 Carnival beauties, which were featured in the 1913 issue of El Renacimiento. He conceptualized a design in which the three regional beauties—Julia, Ana and Inocencia—were looked at as the 3 radiant stars of the Philippine flag—and so each silver crown they wore was topped by a star.

The crown for the Luzon Queen had a magnificent starburst atop a triangle representing the 3 regions of the Philippines. The crown for the Visayan Queen was accented by a plume, while the Mindanao Queen wore a crown that incorporated a crescent moon, a Muslim motif.

Zamora also designed the trophies awarded to different competition winners, most in Art Nouveau style. Some distinctive Filipino elements were used by Zamora to embellish cups and trophies, like bamboo and coconut leaf fronds.

In terms of design, artistry and craftsmanship Crispulo Zamora was in a class of his own. When he passed away in 1922, his wife Pelagia continued on with the metal engraving business.

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