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:
Our Lady of Candelaria
Our Lady of Candelaria:
The use of stiffened and painted cloth in a
frame santo is uncommon but an example of another such
Virgin is in Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz. As
in the other church, the cloth has been painted to
resemble polychrome. It is evident that the frame is
more complicated in structure than the usual "A" shape.
The figure is unnaturally high-chested; from the waist
the skirt forms a bell, as it does for the statue in
Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz. The arms appear to be
part of the frame rather than separately carved units.
The top joints of the fingers of the right hand are missing. The left hand is clearly not original and has something of a "rubber glove" look. The stiffened cloth represents a separate cape and robe. The pattern is of bold red arabesques on the cape and gold flowers on the skirt of the robe. The bodice is a simple brown with gold vertical stripes.
The child figure seems to have been carved of a single piece of wood and is angled as if it were in a chair. The hair is arranged in complicated waves, yet the face is hardly detailed at all.
The crown has the shape characteristic of a Soledad's crown, and there is a photograph of the Soledad in a frame before the statue, but the child and the open-armed stance are inconsistent with the Soledad. On the wall behind the statue is an inscription noting that renovation of the Virgin was done in "13 de morzo [sic] 1886" as a gift of the mayordomo Guillermo Valeriano. Presidente García-Martinez informed us that at the present time no mayordomía has special charge of this statue.
Local Name: La Candelaria
Basis for Identification: Identified
as La Candelaria by the Presidente. Full crown
on the adult, the Christ child in the crook of the left
arm, a rosary hanging from the child's left arm. At Teitipac
and elsewhere in the Latin world the Candelaria and the
child carry sceptres. Here the shape of the adult's
right hand and the child's left suggest that sceptres
may have been a part of original composition.
Site: Church of Santa Ana del Valle.
Media and construction: Frame construction. Wood, gesso, paint. Hair: On the adult, a wig; on the child, sculpted hair.
Size: About 3½
feet (105 cm.)
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Teitipac.
the same altar, to the right of the Candelaria, is an "Ecce Homo" santo.
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.