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A Sacred Hobby

A Sacred Hobby
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Adriel Alvares’ unique holy image collection inherited from his grandmother showcases art of a bygone era.

As a child Adriel Alvares loved to visit his grandmother. Not because of her tales but for some interesting items in her possessions. Her unique hobby, he says, was her collection of holy images. Adriel recalls he was six when she first showed them to him. He soon started following his grandma’s passion, so much so that to the 600-odd prized possessions left in his care, he has added another thousand.

Holy images are offered on many occasions, from Church feasts and funerals and even on birthdays in the past. The oldest in his collection date back to 1891. These are beautiful, black and white images with detailed artwork. One has a chalice with the Holy Spirit and another depicts Mary with her son sitting in a lush forest with a lamb with birds surrounding them. Many of these images date back to his great grandfather who offered the first holy picture to his daughter who began this unique hobby.

The cards have been collated from various eras, from the early 1900s to the 20s, 40, 50s and so on. Adriel has neatly filed all these in chronological order. And the change in artwork and printing technologies is clearly visible. As you turn the pages, the black and whites give way to colour and finally the era of digital printing with its gloss finish. Earlier, cut borders and gold were used like in the 12th May 1916 image of Mary given to celebrate the feast at the Merces parish.

The facial features were softer compared to present times. Adriel elaborates, “The typefaces and art were very different. Some had engravings at the side that showed you how the paper was cut.”

Adriel’s collection keeps growing with help from friends and family who know of his hobby. For him it is a way of continuing a family legacy.

This article was first published in Timeline GOA Magazine: Issue 1 Vol. 1 (Page 57).


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