National Museum to carbon-date Cebu priest’s ivory images to check if they were sourced illegally

A team from the National Museum will run carbon-dating tests on at least six religious images from the collection of Monsignor Cristobal Garcia to determine whether they were made after the ivory trade was declared illegal, Carine Asutilla of Cebu Daily News reports.

A team from the National Museum will run carbon-dating tests on at least six religious images from the collection of Monsignor Cristobal Garcia to determine whether they were made after the ivory trade was declared illegal, Carine Asutilla of Cebu Daily News reports.

 

Garcia’s collection was featured in a National Geographic article on the ivory trade in October. The article also claimed Cebu was on an international trading route for ivory illegally collected in Africa.

 

Garcia has thousands of icons and images in his collection, but only six were made from ivory. "This includes a finger-size Sto. Niño, which was still inside a box. The entire figure is made of elephant tusk. The other five images include another Sto. Niño, San Vicente Ferrer, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mother Mary, and Baby Jesus. But these images only had their faces and hands made of ivory," the Cebu Daily News report said.

 

The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species banned ivory trading in 1979. The Philippines joined CITES in 1981, making the ivory trade illegal here too. DENR ecosystems management specialist Ariel Rica is quoted as saying "if radioactive carbon dating proves that the images are dated way before 1975, Msgr. Garcia may not be liable since ivory wasn't banned in those days."

 

For more on this story, log on to Cebu Daily News.

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