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
The Virgin in a Straw Hat

The Virgin Mary in a straw hat:
The face is plain but the work is of great delicacy and in excellent condition. The figure looks down and ahead. The index and thumb of the right hand touch. The left hand is held downward, relaxed in front of her body at waist height. The statue wears a long dark wig, pearl earrings and an ivory satin dress trimmed in gold. There is a white brocade cape, but no veil. The Virgin wears a large straw hat with the left side of the brim curled up.

The person portraying Mary in the posadas is usually dressed as for a pilgrimage and wears a straw hat. She is usually accompanied by a St. Joseph, who also wears a straw hat. The strange, very large bulges under the virgin's garments suggest a solid, probably poychrome base. Moreover, the clothing bulges far to the back of the body and on either side of the legs, suggesting that the statue may actually be seated. Although we have never seen a Mary who was made to ride an ass, it may be that this one, ready for pilgrimage, does ride on her feast day.

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán.

Location: On an andas on a pillar, left of the entry into the chapel off the east end of the south nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Hair: wig.

Size: Life size.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca (i.e., other Virgin Mary santos): Achiutla, Etla1 (in the Soledad group) Etla2, Guelavia1, Guelavia2, Nochixtlán, Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Teotitlán2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Zimatlán.

External Link:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Virgin Mary in Mexico.

Next: At the same entryway, a "pensive Christ" statue (Christ in the pretorium)

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.