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:

Christ: Ecce Homo
Crucifix (1)
Crucifix (2)
Crucifix (3)
Crucifixion Group
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Anne (1)
St. Anne (2)
St. Anne (3)
St. Joseph
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)

Other santos not photographed
The Holy Family

The Holy Family:
The statues are entirely of wood. Both are rather dusty and the colors have darkened. The drapery of the robes and capes is eloquently carved. The Joseph statue's right hand is extended in a way that would permit it to hold a lily stalk, though none is in evidence.

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): Achiutla, Etla1 (in the Soledad group) Etla2, Guelavia1, Guelavia2, Nochixtlán, Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Teotitlán2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Zimatlán.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca (Joseph): Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Mitla1, Mitla2, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Zimatlán.

Next: Moving to the central altar along the south wall, a statue of St. Joseph with the Christ Child

Previous santo

Introduction to Santa Ana del Valle

Santos Home Page

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.

The photos shown here are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You are free to share or remix them on two conditions: first, that you attribute them 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 these photos, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.