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.
| Virgin Mary
| Santo name:
The garments were made by applying to the wood first gesso, then cloth and gesso, then the polychrome finish. The lower front of the robe has lost much of the polychrome, as if by being rubbed away, leaving the white beneath. This white is also seen in a path from the navel crossing the right breast to the right shoulder, and also along the most prominent fold along the right leg. It is as if both gold and paint have flaked away. On the white can be seen outlines of flowers done in brown dots. These seem to have been done on the gesso before any gold or paint had been applied, and to have served as the outlines for the flowers of the finished work.
The face has a lovely blush and a fine sheen. The hands have suffered much from dust and time. In the left palm is a hole which may have been used to anchor an object or a Christ child. (In the latter case, the child would have perched rather precariously.) There are wax drippings on and round the right knee.
Basis for Identification: Full crown
on head, rosary around neck.
Other characteristics: No child.
Site: Church of San Juan Guelavia.
Location: Table along the south wall of the nave (see note).
Media and construction: Polychrome. Eyes: glass. Hair: wig. Closed mouth.
Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)
along the south wall, a statue
of St. Nicholas Factor
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.
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