San Agustin’s mesirecordias at the choirloft

mercyseats2.jpgThe choirstalls (left) at the choirloft is one of the intriguing works at San Agustin. The detailed woodwork calls to mind the intricacies of the pulpit and the motifs found makes it all the more valuable. Just imagine, strapwork done in the Renaissance style combined with Oriental emblems that attests to the uniqueness of religious art in this part of the world.

The 68 stalls are made of kamagong or Philippine ebony. These were commissioned by Fray Miguel Garcia Serrano during the early part of the 17th century probably 1608 – 1614, just a few years after the stone church was finished.

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Individual choirstalls have flippable seats (left) with wooden protrusions at the middle bottom. These are the so called misericordia or mercy seat that the old and infirm can use on prolonged standing during prayers. Note that this being a monastery, the community use to gather here for matins.

Right, detail of the the stalls’ claws and balls feet emanating from monster masks, typically Chinese in motif.

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mercyseats4.jpg Wooden strapwork details (top) that can be seen on these choirstalls including the Augustinian emblem of a pierced heart and bishop’s mitre. Not shown is a chrysanthemum emblem (Japanese?) in one of the seats.

Another panel with the words HINCET CHORUS (right) (Here is the chorus) that can be found atop the corinthian capital. Notice the wooden inlays at the smooth borders (this can also be found at the wooden part supporting the arms). These are decorative items made of narra, a Philippine hardwood.

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