Santos in Oaxaca's Ancient Churches
A study of santos in 16th-century and other churches in Oaxaca, Mexico
By Claire and Richard Stracke
Funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
In San Pedro y San Pablo
This is an unusual crucifix for Oaxaca. It has an ethereal look. The eyes are fully closed and the face is peaceful. The hair frames the face in stylized curls. The body stretches gracefully down to the fan shape of the toes. The blood is more restrained than one would expect in a piece this old and is used most significantly at the feet to emphasize the fan shape. The carved perizoma hangs from a thin string at the hips in pronounced and complex folds of what the viewer is to take as transparent linen. At the right hip one end of the perizoma is gathered into the string as if knotted. The crown of thorns is very narrow.
The hands are damaged. There are chips in the surface of the gesso in the arms and the right chest. There is a significant crack at the top of the right thigh. The figure has been chained to the bottom of the cross, presumably for security.
The crosspieces are green, dowel-shaped, carved and decorated with heavy gilt. The cross is set into a mountain sculptured in the fashion of Renaissance landscapes. The design is of heaped-up rocks, on some of which the artist has painted delicate leaves of grass and golden shadows. The crucifix is set so deeply into the mountain that the figure's feet rest on the rocks.
Local Name: El Señor de la
Site: Church of San Pedro y San Pablo Etla.
Location: Third bay in the north wall of the nave (see note).
Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Sculpted hair and perizoma.
5½ feet in all (168 cm.)
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Guelavia, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teitipac Our Lady of the Rosary, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3 (in Rosary case), Teposcolula Convento1, Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula1, Tlacolula2, Xoxocotlán1, Xoxocotlán2, Xoxocotlán3, Xoxocotlán4, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.
the main altar, a statue
of Christ fallen under the Cross
references to the cardinal directions always assume
that the main altar is at the east end of the church,
the narthex or entry area at the west end, and the two
of the nave on the
north and south. (The
nave is the long central section.)
Actual orientations may differ.
The photo shown here is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
license. You are free to share or remix it on two
conditions: first, that you attribute it to the
photographers, Claire and Richard Stracke, without
implying any approval of your work on their part;
second, that if you alter, transform, or build upon
this photo, you may distribute the resulting work only
under the same or similar license to this one.