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 Museum in the
former convento at Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán:
St. Dominic Group
| St. Dominic Group
Site: Museum of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán.
Location: In a niche at floor level in the south wall (see note).
Center: Saint Dominic
All fingers and thumbs are broken off. The garments are badly torn. Beneath them, the statue is unfinished.
Local Name: Santo Domingo.
Basis for Identification: Tonsure, hole in forehead where a star would have been.
Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments.
Size: 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm.)
Left: Saint Michael
The badly deteriorated statue on the left in the same niche was identified by Sr. Ventura as "Barabbas," the prisoner whom Pilate freed in preference to Christ. This would be consistent with the identification of the santo on the right as St. Dismas (see below). However, the military garb seems to impose an identification as St. Michael. Perhaps the original statue could have been pressed into service as Barabbas for Holy Week observances.
A cherub decorates the left sleeve. The stiffened cloth can be seen where the polychrome has deteriorated.
Basis for Identification: Military
boots and tunic, right hand raised as to hold a sword.
Other characteristics: No head.
Media and construction: Polychrome, stiffened cloth.
Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla1, Achiutla2, Achiutla3, Achiutla4, Cuilapan, Huitzo, Ocotlán, Tamazulapan, Teotitlán, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3, Yanhuitlán, Yanhuitlán Crucifix Group.
The santo on the right, with the face broken off, was identified by Sr. Ventura as San Dimas. Possibly the intention was to group a "good" and "bad" figure from the Passion story. The carved hair is shoulder-length. Only patches of the gold remain; the weave of the stiffened cloth shows through. The hands are missing.
Media and construction: Polychrome,
stiffened cloth. Hair: carved.
Size: 33 inches (84 cm.)
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: We
Next: Other santos not photographed
Introduction to the Museum at Yanhuitlán
Note: On this site, references to the cardinal directions in a church 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.) In Yanhuitlán, this schema extends the four directions to the Museum. That is, "east" means parallel to the east side of the church, "south" to the south side, etc. 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.