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 the church of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán:

Christ carrying the Cross
Christ Child
Christ Child (with Crucifix 1)
Christ seated in the pretorium ("Pensive Christ")
Crucifix 1
Crucifix 2
Main altar
Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Sorrows
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Dominic 1
St. Dominic 2
St. Michael
St. Michael (with Crucifix 1)
St. Peter
St. Raphael (with Crucifix 1)
St. Sebastian
Soledad (?)
Trinity 1
Trinity 2
Unidentified Dominican nun

Unidentified Franciscan
Unidentified saint 1
Unidentified saint 2 (Christopher?)
Unidentified saint 3
Virgin Mary 1
Virgin Mary 2

Other santos not photographed

Tour of the Museum
Tour of the Ayuxi Chapel
Other Santos in the Church of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán

Unidentified Franciscan

The design is of lines scratched to reveal the gold. There is little sheen to the face.

Basis for Identification: A book resting on the left hand, a curly tonsure, a brown habit with a cord.

Other characteristics: A palm in the right hand.

Location: In a niche above the central glass case in the second of the four retablos along the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome. Eyes: painted.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)


Christ Fallen with the Cross

The figure is bald but has very good, lifelike skin. There is a great deal of blood, and the left elbow has been ulcerated, as if by the three falls. Light purple robe.

Location: Under a canopy, above the glass case in the center of the third of the four retablos along the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint.

Size: 32 inches (81 cm.) from the tip of the raised left hand to the knee on the ground.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca, Etla, Guelavia, Huitzo, Teposcolula, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Jesus Fallen Beneath the Cross
Catholic Encyclopedia: Way of the Cross
Wikipedia: Stations of the Cross


Unidentified Saint

Something must once have been in the left palm; now it holds only a piece of rope. The skin is fairly well done but has little sheen and a somewhat plastery look.

Basis for Identification: Looking at the palm of the left hand, in a brown cassock and white lace surplice.

Location: In a glass case below the central case in the third of the four retablos along the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint; fabric garments.

Size: About 2 feet (60 cm.)


Crucifix

Very bloody, looks old.

Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Location: Above the Soledad in the retablo at the east end of the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint.

Size: About 6 feet (180 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Etla, Guelavia, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teitipac Our Lady of the Rosary, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3 (in Rosary case),  Teposcolula Convento1, Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula1, Tlacolula2Xoxocotlán1, Xoxocotlán2, Xoxocotlán3, Xoxocotlán4, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Crucifixes in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Archaeology of the Cross and Crucifix
Wikipedia: Crucifix
Christian Iconography: The Crucifixion


Christ in a Coffin 1

The face is beneath a cover of the same fabric as the coverlet.

Local Name: El Señor de la Muerte.

Basis for Identification: Lying in a coffin, face and body under red coverlets.

Location: Below the Soledad in the retablo at the east end of the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Hair: Wig.

Size: About 5 feet (150 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Huitzo, Mitla, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán (in the Soledad group), Zaachila.

External Link:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of suffering Christ in a coffin


Christ in a Coffin 2

Local Name: El Señor de la Muerte.

Location: On an altar in the chapel off the east end of the south wall of the nave.

Comparable santos, External Link: see above


Christ?

Standing in a green robe.

Location: Niche in the southeast corner of the nave.


Virgin and Child

Location: Lower center of the retablo of another altar along the south wall of the nave (not the same altar as for the Blue Virgin and the Palm Sunday Christ).

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca, Coixtlahuaca2, Cuilapan, Guelavia, Huitzo, Díaz Ordaz1, Díaz Ordaz2, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Virgin Mary in Mexico
Christian Iconography: The Virgin and Child


Unidentified Dominican

The right hand is raised in blessing. The left is held at waist height. Under the heavy robes, the legs are outlined, the left knee bent. The figure is very dusty, but a gold pattern can just be made out on the white robes.

Basis for Identification: Curly tonsure, black and white habit.

Location: Small upper niche in the first retablo past the portal in the south wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)


Previous santo

Introduction to the church at Yanhuitlán

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 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.