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

Christ in a Coffin

Christ in a coffin:
All but the face is covered with a pink fringed coverlet. The whites of the eyes present a strong contrast to the dark skin and the heavily shadowed lids. The hair extends past the knees in long ropes of curls. There is a purple fabric headband at the blood-streaked brow. A painted green crown of thorns in the basketweave pattern lies at the breast. The knees are raised, perhaps suggesting that the figure is used in Holy Week as the crucified Christ. In this regard it may also be significant that the arms are held rigidly at the sides, as if they were hinged and could be extended.

Local Name: El Dios de la Muerte.

Basis for Identification: Recumbent Christ in a coffin, under a pink coverlet. The crown of thorns lies on the coverlet, and blood streams down the face.

Other characteristics: Very long hair, dark skin.

Site: Church of the Assumption, Tlacolula.

Location: On an altar midway along the second wall of the north part of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Eyes: glass, with eyelashes. Hair: wig.

Size: About 5 feet (150 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Ejutla, Etla (in the Soldedad Group), Etla2, Mitla, Santa Ana del Valle, Tamazulapan, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, TilantongoXoxocotlán.

External Links:
The episode of the purple robe is in John 19:1-5.
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Ecce Homo.

Next: Notes on several santos that were not photographed.

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.