Santa Geracina

Nº de referência da peça: 

Prata Indo-Portuguesa, séc. XVII
Marca de importação Francesa (1893-1970)
Alt.: 45,0 cm
Peso: 1.753 g
Prov.: M.H.R. collection, Lisbon
Expo: "Jóias da Carreira da Índia Museu do Oriente", Lisbon, 2014

Saint Geracina
Indo-Portuguese, late 16th – early 17th century
French export mark (1893-1970)
H.: 45 cm
Weight: 1753.0 g
Prov.: M.H.R. collection, Lisbon
Exibth: ‘Jewels from the Indian Run’, M. Oriente, n. 123
Certificate of Authenticity: S. Ruival and H. Braga

Of Goan origin, and probably dating to the sixteenth century, this is a very rare sculpture in silver of fine repoussé and chased decoration which would have been affixed to a wooden core, with the holes on the base still surviving.
In full figure, this martyr saint – who undoubtedly was holding in her left hand her identifying attribute, the cast and chased palm of martyrdom, now unfortunately lost – is depicted as a damsel and courtesan, wearing a full length Flemish gown (in figured damask with a foliage or rinceaux pattern), with a square neckline, a silk veiling partlet, a cherubim, belt and a large mantle that, covering her shoulders, envelops her similarly to a pano‑paló, the piece of cloth that Christian Goans borrowed from the dress style of Hindu women.
With a severe appearance of a tough demeanour, the long hair stands out, spiralling as it falls over the shoulders (similar to the long hairs in the Goan and Ceylonese ivory devotional
sculptures), with prominent ears placed artificially. Her hands are delicately cast, probably from wax, and are set inside the sleeve openings, where even the buttonholes were depicted.
The chisel work is minute and notable, reflecting na unusual decorative repertoire of great erudition, rare in Goan pieces but nevertheless comparable with early works known
and still surviving in Goa.
Such is the case with the box (ciborium) with a rare octagonal shape from the Goa Cathedral and probably contemporary to this saint considering its fine decoration ao romano, with candelabrae of the purest Renaissance style derived from European engravings.
Microscopic examination enable us to posit, in what regards the chiselling, for a direct connection with the Goan monstrance presented above, given that both feature a discontinuous movement of the chisel, in which the clearness of the line is sacrificed in favour of the overall expressiveness and always advancing tentatively with the punch, as is particularly visible in the hairs, with such a procedure probably in effect at a workshop lacking in iron chisels of a greater range of shapes.
It should also be noted that the damask background, in contrast to the flat surface of the foliage (rinceaux) motives, was fully punched in fond criblé, with a circular iron punch even if in a somewhat random fashion.
The Goan origin of this remarkable sculpture is indisputable, whether given the erudition of the chasing or the type of sheet silver used, with its lack of thickness and featuring, in particular on the back less exposed to the believer, the usual ingenious use of the material available, with overlying and soldered joints, but above all for the type of figuration.
The almond-shaped eyes, the very prominent eyebrows, the fine nose, the small mouth and the ears almost solderedlike (in fact, in repoussé and chased), are similar to the icon, the Hindu idol (murti, or muhurti in Koncani, ‘incarnation’ or ‘manifestation’ of the divine) made in the round featuring articulated hands and arms, of Devaki Krishna, the mother of Krishna with the boy (Balakrishna) in her left arm, which remains today the attraction of worshippers at her Temple in Mashel, or Marcela, in taluka Mormugao, in Goa.
This is a processional idol (utsava murti) made from panchaloha, a sacred alloy composed of five metals (gold, silver, copper, iron and lead) normally used in the production of this type of secondary images used during religious festivals and profusely adorned with rich textiles and jewels given by devotees. The main idol (mula murti, or mula vigraha), from black granite, seems to have been saved in the sixteenth century by fleeing Hindus, when the original temple in the island of Chorão (Chodam, former Chudamani) was taken by the Portuguese, and transported by canoe to Bicholim, then beyond the territory under Portuguese rule in what has already been dubbed the flight of the deities. Similarly, the anatomical features and style of our saint may easily be compared with those of the silver mask depicting Shiva in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (acc. AC1995.16.1), na eighteenth‑century example of the Hindu sculptural tradition of the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka in Southwest India.
The clear stylistic parallels that may thus be established with the idol of Devaki Krishna of Mashel or with the Bhuta masks from these coastal regions of the Deccan, demonstrate the production of this martyr saint by Hindu artists versed in the arts and technology for the production of idols and in their treatises (shilpa shastras), handed down from generation to generation.

In reality, the production of masks representing Hindu deities is one of the most significant sculptural traditions of the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, within which the territory of Goa is geographically located, wedged between the two on the Konkan coast. ❧
In all likelihood, given the quality of the silverwork, its ornamental erudition and size – in keeping with a martyred saint whose worship was certainly held in great importance in the city of Goa, this precious sculpture depicts Saint Geracina, one of the handmaidens to Saint Ursula (martyr and princess), known as the Eleven Thousand Virgins of Cologne. In reality, on 14 October 1548, appearing out of Goa Cathedral was the head of the martyred saint – arriving from Rome after its gift by the Superior General Ignatius of Loyola – taken in solemn procession in the direction of the Colégio of São Paulo, the Jesuit main residence in the Portuguese State of India, as the king is told by the Bishop of Goa, Juan Albuquerque (1479– 1553) in a letter dated 5 November 1548. Having travelled in the chest of the Jesuit and future rector in Goa, António Gomes (1519–1554) from Lisbon on board the carrack Galega, on a voyage deemed not to have ended in shipwreck through the intercession of the saint with the relic held up in procession as the carrack passed a reef off the coast of Mozambique. Years later, António de Noronha, viceroy from 1550 to 1554, ‘had the silver monstrance made, in which the venerable head is preserved today’ (mandou lavrar a charola, ou custodia de prata, em que hoje se guarda a veneravel cabeça). The reliquary of Saint Geracina, of Goan manufacture, formerly in the Goa Cathedral and later in the Colégio de São Paulo-o-Novo, known to us only by photograph, with its base decorated with an acanthus frieze, cylindrical body and with its dome-shaped cover, has ‘depicted in high-relief, Saint Ursula, crowned, with a flag on her hand, flanked by her female companions and, on the background, the carraks in which they travelled.
Curiously, Saint Ursula ladies-in-waiting appear dressed precisely according to the courtly fashions of the sixteenth century, with full gowns, jerkins, kirtles and long cartridge‑pleated ruffs, which indicate that this reliquary must be later than 1580 and not the primitive one donated by António de Noronha. This represented the beginnings to the worship of this saint that would certainly have been advanced by the founding in 1552 of the Brotherhood of the
Eleven Thousand Virgins, perhaps only eclipsed not only by the antagonism with which António Gomes received Francis Xavier on his return to Goa in 1549, but also by the later presence of the incorrupt body of now Saint Francis Xavier, beatified in 1619 and canonised in 1622, and then transferred from the Colégio de São Paulo to the Church of Bom Jesus in 1624 for public veneration.
Whatever the case, in accordance with the chronology of its decorative features, in conjunction with the clothing worn by the saint, a Flemish gown with a square neckline following in the fashion of a 16th century court lady, we may be certain that this very rare silver image precedes by many dozens of years the well-known, monumental sculpture, also in silver with its wooden core, depicting the ‘Apostle of the Indies’, dated to 1679 and in the Basílica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa.
Our sculpture thus belongs to the first religious silver pieces produced in a Jesuit context of which none was known until the present. The one depicting Saint Francis Xavier, similar to the martyred saint, rather than comparable with Goan ivory sculpture (with which the parallels are indeed very limited), can only be analysed in light of the local production of Hindu idols. Only thus may we explain not only all of the piece's volumetric form, but also the autonomous and
articulated positioning of the arms and hands, as well as the type of face features (mask), or the typical ears of the Hindu murti of which various large examples are known and still worshipped in the temples of Goa. Among them stands the idol of Naguesh (or Nagesh), a manifestation of Shiva, in his temple in the village of Bandivade (or Bandode) in taluka Pondá, Goa.

Hugo Miguel Crespo

Raríssima escultura em fina chapa de prata repuxada e cinzelada, obra-prima de uma destacada oficina de ourives de Goa, datável dos inícios de Seiscentos, ou um pouco anterior. Em vulto pleno, esta santa mártir - que sem dúvida segurava na mão esquerda o seu atributo, a palma do martírio em prata fundida e cinzelada, infelizmente hoje perdida - surge-nos representada como uma donzela e cortesã, vestindo saio inteiro à flamenga (de damasco com largo lavrado de folhagens), de decote quadrado, fina gorjeira de gaze de seda, querubim, cinto de fita e largo manto que, cobrindo-lhe os ombros, a envolve como um pano-paló - pano que as cristãs goesas tomaram do vestuário das mulheres hindus. De rosto severo e feições duras, sobressaem os longos cabelos compridos e espiralados que caem sobre as costas (semelhantes aos da imaginária goesa e cingalesa em marfim), com orelhas salientes, como que apostas. As mãos, delicadamente fundidas provavelmente em cera perdida, encaixam no bocal das mangas, onde se vêm as abotoaduras. O trabalho de cinzel é minucioso e notável, sendo a linguagem decorativa de grande erudição, bastante rara em peças goesas mas de virtuosismo comparável às primeiras obras que se conhecem e sobrevivem ainda em Goa. É o caso da caixa para hóstias de raro formato octogonal da Sé de Goa - provavelmente contemporânea desta nossa santa mártir - de fina decoração ao romano, com candelabrae do mais puro estilo renascentista. O exame microscópico permite estabelecer quanto ao cinzelado uma ligação filiar a conhecidas obras goesas, que evidenciam um movimento descontínuo do cinzel em que a segurança da linha é sacrificada pela expressividade do traço, visível em particular nos cabelos. Note-se também que o fundo do damasco, em contraste com a superfície lisa dos motivos de folhagens, foi integralmente puncionado em fond criblé. A origem goesa desta notável escultura é indiscutível, conquanto a erudição do trabalho do cinzel, não apenas pelo tipo de chapa utilizado, de pouca espessura e evidenciando em particular no tardo o costumeiro aproveitamento engenhoso do material com costuras sobrepostas e soldadas (bem visíveis nas radiografias) mas essencialmente pelo tipo de figuração. Os olhos amendoados, as sobrancelhas muito salientes, o nariz fino, a boca pequena, e as orelhas como que soldadas posteriormente (na verdade, repuxadas e cinzeladas), são em tudo semelhantes ao ícone, ou ídolo hindu (murti, ou muhurti em concani, "encarnação" ou "manifestação" da divindade) de vulto perfeito e de braços e mãos articulados, de Devaki Krishna, a mãe de Krishna com o seu menino, que se encontra ao culto no seu Templo em Mashel, ou Marcela, taluka de Mormugão, em Goa. Trata-se de um ídolo processional (utsava murti) usado em festivais e sempre profusamente ornamentado, quer de têxteis ricos e flores, como de jóias oferecidas pelos devotos. Também as feições da nossa santa podem facilmente comparar-se com os da máscara de prata representando Shiva da colecção do Los Angeles County Museum of Art (acc. no. AC1995.16.1), exemplar setecentista da tradição escultórica hindu dos estados do Maharashtra e Karnataka no sudoeste indiano. Os paralelos estilísticos claros que se podem estabelecer com o ídolo de Devaki Krishna de Mashel e com as máscaras Bhuta destas regiões do Decão costeiro, comprovam a produção desta santa mártir por artista hindu versado na arte e tecnologia da produção de ídolos e na sua tratadística própria (shilpa shastras), passada de pais para filhos. Com efeito a produção de máscaras representando divindades hindus é uma das tradições escultóricas mais notáveis do Maharashtra e do Karnataka, onde o território de Goa geograficamente se insere, nas costas do Concão. É provável, dada a qualidade do trabalho da prata, sua erudição ornamental e dimensões - condizentes com uma santa mártir cujo culto seria certamente de grande importância na cidade Goa -, que se trate de uma representação de Santa Geracina, uma das companheiras donzelas de Santa Úrsula (princesa mártir), conhecidas como as Onze Mil Virgens de Colónia. Com efeito, a 14-X-1548 partia da Sé de Goa a cabeça da santa mártir em solene procissão com direcção ao Colégio de São Paulo, sede dos jesuítas na capital do Estado Português da Índia. Havia viajado na arca do jesuíta, e futuro novo reitor em Goa, António Gomes, desde Lisboa a bordo da nau Galega que, acreditou-se então, teria sido salva de naufrágio certo por milagre da santa. Anos mais tarde, António de Noronha, vice-rei de 1550 a 1554, mandou lavrar a charola, ou custodia de prata, em que hoje se guarda a veneravel cabeça. O relicário de Santa Geracina, de fabrico goês, outrora na Sé de Goa, que se conhece apenas por fotografia, tem representadas em alto relêvo Sta. Úrsula, coroada, com bandeira na mão, ladeada de suas companheiras, e, por traz, as caravelas que as transportaram. Curiosamente as donzelas, surgem vestidas precisamente à moda cortesã quinhentista. Iniciava-se então o culto desta santa, para o qual certamente contribuiu a criação em 1552 da Confraria das Onze Mil Virgens. Dada a cronologia dos seus elementos decorativos, aliada ao vestuário com que a santa é representada, um saio flamengo à moda cortesã de Quinhentos, é certo que esta imagem em prata precede em largas dezenas de anos a conhecida e monumental escultura de vulto perfeito, igualmente em prata com alma em madeira, do "Apóstolo das Índias", datada de 1670 e que se encontra na Basílica do Bom Jesus em Velha Goa. Pertencerá então às primeiras obras de ourivesaria de âmbito jesuítico das quais nenhuma se conhecia até hoje. A de São Francisco Xavier, à semelhança da santa mártir, mais do que comparável com escultura goesa em marfim, deve ser analisada à luz da produção local de ídolos hindus. Assim se explica a volumetria da nossa peça, mas também o posicionamento articulado e autónomo dos braços e mãos, bem como o tipo de feição ou as orelhas típicas dos ídolos hindus dos quais se conhecem diversos exemplares ainda ao culto em templos de Goa.

Hugo Miguel Crespo

  • Arte Colonial e Oriental
  • Artes Decorativas
  • Pratas e Filigranas

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