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 the church of Santa
Elena de la Cruz, Xoxocotlán
A sign beside the crucifix tells its story. The crucifix was found in the Rio Atayaca, on a 6th of August in the 16th century and subsequently brought rain. The execution of anatomical details is realistic but does not emphasize the skeletal structure. The round chest and well-developed muscles portray a strong, healthy male. The head is held straight rather than falling to either side. The crown of thorns is in the basketweave pattern but is white. The wig falls to mid-calf. The tip of the carved loincloth projects from beneath the fabric; it is gilded. The skin is dark golden brown; the blood from the wounds has darkened almost to black.
Local Name: El Señor de la Transfiguración del Rio lo Seca.
Basis for Identification: Loincloth
and scutum, stylized crown of thorns, flowing blood,
Site: Church of Santa Elena de la Cruz, Xoxocotlán.
Location: On the west wall of the narthex, to the right of the main entrance (see note).
Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric loincloth and scutum over carved loincloth. Hair: wig.
Size: About 6 feet (180 cm.)
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Etla, 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, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.another crucifix.
Introduction to Xoxocotlán
Note: On this site, 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 walls of the nave on the north and south. (The nave is the long central section.) Actual orientations may differ.
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