Unknown in France, Philippine art is rarely exhibited in its full breadth and diversity. With these unique objects, imbued with meaning, the exhibition pays homage to various forms of artistic expression (sculpture, weaving, music and saga); it is an invitation to discover complex cultures, some of them ahistorical, based on reciprocity.
The history of the settlement and conquest of the Philippines by the Austronesians around 3500 B.C. is told using a map and a chronological display. The age and dynamism of the maritime routes in the South China Sea are explored. These date from the prehistoric epoch onward and were exploited by the Nusantao, the Sama, the Luzones and the Bugis who opened up new commercial routes over the course of time.
At the heart of the highlands: Austronesian footprints
The first part of the exhibition will be dedicated to the imprint of the Austronesian world in the art of the highlands of the north of Luzon and Mindanao. It is within these societies where prestige, demonstrations of wealth and the promotion of warrior feats are so important, that these works of art are born.
Illustrating the communion between Man and Nature, this section interrogates the forms of creation that ensure continuity and balance between the different worlds (the world above, the intermediate world, or limbo, and the underworld). Man's history is expressed through the circulation of the objects that is the consequence of exchanges between individuals.
The Island of Luzon: arts of the cordillera
The Ifugao, Bontoc, Gadang, Tinggian, Kalinga, Isneg and Ilongot form a mosaic of linguistic groups living in the Cordillera in the north of Luzon, between the mountains and valleys where spectacular rice-fields cling to the contours of the mountainous landscape. The exhibition opens with these rice-based societies and their artistic expressions.
The themes examined here are: Būlul, the rice divinities; The universe of the Mumbaki; Being Kadangyan ; The refinement of the everyday; Personal ornaments; Becoming a Man.
Weaving the strands (basketry)
A "voyage through basketry" leads the visitor from the north to the south, successively presenting the perfection or strangeness of the forms displayed.
Mindanao highlands: The metamorphosis of the warrior into a hero
This section is dedicated to the textiles, costumes and personal ornaments of the warrior. In Bagobo mythology, the wearing of a resplendent garment metamorphoses the character and identity of the wearer: the warrior is transformed into Malaki (a mythological hero).
At the heart of a maritime network
Here we leave the ahistorical area to discover the history of the maritime routes and commercial exchanges, both over long distance and by cabotage. The Indian, Indonesian and Arab influences on the objects presented are highlighted.
the island of palawan: hunting and offering
The objects belonging to the hunters and the offerings are associated with a display of contemporary photographs which shows the hunters using their weapons while moving through the hot atmosphere of the forest.
The influence of the sultanates (Mindanao and Sulu)
This section presents the penetration of Indian and Indonesian influences with patterns of patola, mandalas, tumpals and the tree of life. The vitalism of the forms borrowed from this tradition (flower buds, birds, branches etc.) is reflected in the surface of the objects.
The Golden Age of the cities
The Golden Age of the ports of the archipelago is presented through the treasures of Surigao, of Butuan etc., with the emphasis placed on the extraordinary technical expertise achieved in gold working, and an examination of the virtues associated with this powerful metal.
Archaeology: the funerary objects
The objects displayed include jars from the first and second funeral rites, and the objects found in these jars (gold, celadons, cornelian,glass and jade jewellery) which indicate early commerce. In addition to the affecting beauty of these works, this section explains the technical progress and history of these sites.