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 Santa María de
la Natividad Zaachila:
St. Nicholas Factor
| Saint Nicholas Factor:
Most likely there was originally a skull in the left hand, which is held forward, the curved palm facing the saint's downcast eyes. The right hand is positioned in such a way that it also might have held something.
The polychrome is black and gold, and the lining of the cape is black. The figure has a narrow waist and a bell-shaped skirt, often found in representations of friars. The folds hang smoothly from the waist with no suggestion of the legs beneath. The cape repeats the bell shape. The hands are well detailed. The face has a natural glow and a delicate suggestion of a five-o'clock shadow.
Local Name: San Nicolás.
Basis for Identification: The
statue was identified as San Nicolás by a parishioner,
who added that the saint is the patron of the dead. Tonsure,
black and gold habit with a short cape and a knotted
cincture. Probably the left hand originally held a
Site: Church of Santa María de la Natividad Zaachila.
Location: In the first bay in the south wall of the nave (see note).
Media and construction: Polychrome.
Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)
Note: On this site, references to the cardinal directions in a church 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.
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