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 Nochixtlán:

Calvary Group
Our Lady of Sorrows
Unidentified Female (Mary Magdalene?)

Other santos not photographed

Unidentified Female (Mary Magdalene?)

Unidentified Female (Mary Magdalene?):
This is an undistinguished piece of work, with not much sheen to the skin and a rudimentary treatment of the facial features. Some of the fingers are broken.

Behind this statue is a plaster santo.

Basis for Identification: St. Mary Magdalene is a frequent figure in Calvary groupings. The wig worn by this figure is a dark brown and continues back onto her shoulders, perhaps reflecting the traditional iconography that gives this saint long blond hair. However, her hair is almost never shown covered, and we have never seen it covered in Calvary images. It is possible, therefore, that this could be a second Virgin Mary statue to the one on the left in this Calvary Group. In Oaxaca we often found multiple statues of the same saint in the same area; sometimes different statues are in the care of different community organizations.

Other characteristics: Pink gown with pink fabric "rose," white mantle, earrings.

Site: Church of Santa María de la Asunción Nochixtlán.

Location:  On the right in the Calvary Group.

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Eyes glass, with lashes. Hair: wig.

Size: Slightly shorter than the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows on the left of the Calvary Group.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca (St. Mary Magdalene): Achiutla, Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla, Huitzo, Ocotlán, Tamazulapan, Teotitlán, Teposcolula.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca (generic Virgin Mary): Achiutla, Etla1 (in the Soledad group) Etla2, Guelavia1, Guelavia2Ocotlán, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Mary Magdalene in Mexico
Christian Iconography: St. Mary Magdalene, Follower of Christ

Next: Other santos not photographed

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Introduction to Asunción Nochixtlán

Santos Home Page

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