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

Palm Sunday Christ

Palm Sunday Christ:
Christ wears a single polychrome robe in a flower-and-vine pattern, carved from one piece of wood. The inside of the robe is unfinished, and where it hangs below the belly of the ass one can see the marks of the chisel. The ass is much more realistic than usual, notably in the curve of the rear leg, the cord of muscle running down from the jawbone, and even a scrotum.

Local Name: El Santo Nazareño

Basis for Identification: Riding on an ass.

Site: Church of the Assumption, Tlacolula.

Location: Along the north wall of the west transept of the Chapel (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome garment. The Christ has glass eyes, no lashes; the ass has glass eyes, a hair tail, and a leather harness.

Size: About 3 feet 9 inches (114 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan, Mitla, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, TeposcolulaYanhuitlán.

External Link:
Metropolitan Museum Art: Palmesel

Next: Heading into the main church, we find along the north wall an "Ecce Homo" santo.

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.