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 Tlacolula:

Christ: Ecce Homo
Christ in a coffin
Christ in the pretorium (Pensive Christ)
Crucifix 1
Crucifix 2
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of the Assumption
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Anthony of Padua
St. John the Evangelist
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)

Other santos not photographed

Our Lady of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Assumption:
Although this elegant statue is of the same quality as those in the apse of the Chapel, it does not appear to be by the same artist but is more idealized in style. The face is a long symmetrical oval, and the over-sized ears help balance the delicate head against the heaviness of the robes. Despite the suggestion of weight in the robes, the hem of the cloak ripples lightly as if carried on the wind. The pattern in the cloak is of delicate gold feathers on a dark blue background, balancing the gold of the robe and the red of the cincture. The long robe flows smoothly over the globe of clouds to anchor the rising figure to its support. The skin tones and the blush are striking.

The arched brows, narrow nose, and queenly bearing of the stylized Virgin recall the work of Spanish artists of the 16th century, and the presence of only two angels in the base suggests that this Annunciation predates the work of Juan Martinez Montañés, (1568-1649) who "established a definitive image of the sculptured Immaculada" (Stratton, La Inmaculada Concepción en el Arte Español, p. 115).

Local Name: La Virgen de la Asunción.

Basis for Identification: Standing on a cloud, a horned moon, and two angels. Hands nearly touching each other in prayer.

Other characteristics: Gold robe, patterned mantle.

Site: Church of the Assumption, Tlacolula.

Location: On the retablo at the east end of the transept of the Chapel (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome. Eyes: glass eyes, no lashes. Hair: carved hair; 3'2".

Size: 3 feet 2 inches (97 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla1, Ejutla2, Mitla1, Mitla2Teitipac, possibly Tlaxiaco, Tule.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of the Assumption of Mary in Mexico
Wikipedia: Assumption of Mary
Christian Iconography: The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Next: Also in the east transept, a statue of the Trinity

Previous santo

Introduction to Tlacolula

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.) In the case of the Chapel of the Lord of Tlacolula, which is at right angles to the south wall of the church, the altar is thus at the south end and the transept (the two wings that give the building the shape of a cross) comprises an east and west section. 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.