The 19th century Paete Mural is attributed to Paete artist Jose Dans (1805- ca. 1870), a true son of Paete who used color pigments mixed with pulverized volcanic ash and brushes fashioned from cat’s hair.
At the Pate Parish Church in Laguna are two works by Dans, probably one of the earliest recorded painters in Philippine (colonial) art history. The work “Langit, Lupa at Impierno” (ca. 1850, or Heaven, Earth and Hell), is a three-level painting which shows the Holy Trinity, Mary the Mother of Christ, saints, the Seven Blessed Sacraments and a macabre depiction of hell. The second painting is entitled Purgatorio (Purgatory) which shows the eight punishments the soul passes through for cleansing before reaching heaven.
The mural fascinates with its intriguing and disturbing details, graphically showing the eight forms of punishment. Writer Jose Dalisay described the mural as: “From the entrance, the two on the left depict San Cristobal (St. Christopher) fording a river with the Child Jesus on his shoulder; on the right is a towering, phantasmagoric rendition of Langit, Lupa at Impyerno (Heaven, Earth and Hell).
“The artistry in all three works is superb, the kind of detailing and nuancing you could mull over for hours, seated in a chair in front of the painting. However, all three — indubitably national treasures — are in dire need of restoration.”
Mabuhay ang Paete Murals!