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 Santa Ana del Valle:
The Holy Family
The Holy Family:
The carving of the Virgin's hair is especially remarkable. As it extends onto the shoulders it forms a harmonious whole with the cape. The Virgin holds a fresh flower in the right hand; the left is extended palm-up and holds a coin. The lining of the mantle is decorated with arabesques and there are vestiges of gold on the cincture. The mantle is not drawn back up to the waist, as is so common in representations of biblical figures, but falls open from the right shoulder while the right leg steps forward. There are three spikes in the head, presumably for fitting a crown. Small spots of paint have flecked away from the robe, revealing gesso underneath.
Basis for Identification: Two matched figures flanking a modern doll that represents the Christ child; Mary on right in red robe with cream collar and blue cape, Joseph on left in green robe with gold cape
Site: Church of Santa Ana del Valle.
Location: On an altar left of the central altar along the south wall of the nave (see note).
Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint.
Size: About 1½
feet (45 cm.)
Comparable santos in Oaxaca (Mary):
Etla1 (in the
Soledad group) Etla2, Guelavia1,
Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Teotitlán2, Tilantongo1,
Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Zimatlán.
Moving to the central altar along the south wall, a statue of St. Joseph with the
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.