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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Carved Crosses of Hidalgo: Pino Suarez

All across Mexico there are modest early colonial buildings, whose architecture, arts and artifacts are generally overlooked. Often poorly documented, sometimes neglected and inadequately maintained, they are at risk. 
   Nevertheless, like the better known and better preserved colonial monuments, these are part of the unique historical and cultural heritage of viceregal Mexico and deserve wider recognition and appropriate conservation. 
  One example is the little known chapel of Pino Suárez in central Hidalgo, formerly called Santa Maria del Pino. Better preserved than other early missions, has retained many typical early colonial features of interest including an old carved stone cross.
The front of the mission displays a harmonious assemblage of church, open chapel, tower and dome, with distinctive, almost abstract profile
   The characteristically square church facade of multihued stonework provides a textured backdrop for the west porch, a hybrid design that incorporates an assertive doorway with a basket handle arch and broad jambs headed by carved, foliated capitals. 
   A square alfiz studded with rosettes frames the archway, capped by a large triangular pediment above. 
Several crosses are embedded in the facade, notably one above the choir window that seems to emerge from a tangle of relief foliage.
The archway of the adjacent open chapel is also carved with repeating panels of sharply swirling foliage in the stylized, tequitqui manner of the 1500s. Foliated reliefs spring from elaborate urns on the supporting jambs. 

  
atrium cross one;                                  atrium cross two
The Crosses
Two other artifacts of interest are the stone crosses mounted in the atrium. One is carved at the crossing with the striking face of Christ, complete with crown of thorns and long, pointed beard. Winged angels' heads appear on the end of each arm. 
   Like other atrial crosses in the area, it is frequently decorated with woven agave leaves, or cucharillas.
  

text © 2016 Richard D. Perry.  images courtesy of Niccolò Brooker and Robert Jackson.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Carved Crosses of Hidalgo: El Sauz

Located in a tiny hillside village southeast of El Cardonal, the shrine of El Señor de El Sauz is housed in a handsome church with a lofty, triple tiered tower and ribbed dome. The large atrium is enclosed by a brilliantly whitewashed wall topped with merlons at intervals. 
 
Inside the main gateway, facing the church, stands a cylindrical style stone cross of undoubted colonial origin, whose carved reliefs have been softened by layers of red paint. 
   Simpler in style than the El Cardonal cross, its stylized, dial like Crown of Thorns at the crossing in front is linked to bold, foliated vine reliefs entwined with fruit and flowers that swirl along the arms and down the shaft. 
  
Eroded reliefs of other Passion symbols are confined to the sides and reverse of the cross and include a Ladder, Spikes and the Rooster on the Column.
   As with the others in this region the El Sauz cross is capped by an INRI placard framed by large scrolls.
text ©2016 Richard D. Perry.  images courtesy of Diana Roberts

see some other Hidalgo crosses: HuichapanAtlanTlahuelilpaAnaya; TezontepecEl Cardonal;

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Carved Crosses of Hidalgo: San Miguel Jaltepec

Set high on an elaborate tiered base in front of the modest chapel of San Miguel Jaltepec, located just across the Mexico state line southwest of Tepeapulco, this handsome, cylindrical cross is skillfully fashioned from the coarse local sandstone. 
   Sculpted in a highly distinctive manner reminiscent of the Huichapan cross, it reveals the hand of a quite original stone carver. Although the crosspiece may be later than the shaft and head, the various Passion objects, densely carved in high relief, have a stylized, ambiguous character with an affinity for rounded, fan like forms. 
Although no Face appears on the cross, a necklace style Crown is folded around the neck, flanked by what may be semicircular Wounds with long threads of blood pointing outwards to the coiled finials on either arm. 
   Numerous Instruments are portrayed around the shaft: an eroded Cockerel sits atop a helical Column carved in outline. A droopy Chalice, or is it a pelican?, with outlying rays or ribs rests on a semicircular object like a slice of orange. 
   Below, a sunburst in the form of a wheel appears above another, half round, spoked motif. The cylindrical cross is capped by an elaborately scrolled INRI plaque with cherubs’ heads.
 The back of the cross is carved with eroded, stick like reliefs that appear to be a Lance, Reed or Ladder.
text © 2016 Richard D. Perry. images by Niccolò Broker
see our other Hidalgo crosses: HuichapanAtlanTlahuelilpaAnayaTezontepecEl Cardonal;

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Carved Crosses of Hidalgo: Tecajique

San Francisco Tecajique, another small settlement southwest of Actopan, also possesses a handsome atrial cross in the regional pattern. Cylindrical in form, it is cut from a highly textured, porous stone that has lost much of its definition over time. 
  
Although the Face at the axis is virtually obliterated, a necklace style Crown of Thorns encircles the arms, and sturdy spikes pierce the remnant Wounds at either end. 
  Some details of Passion reliefs can be traced on the shaft including a Rooster and Column, and at the foot, a Chalice with an inscribed Host. 
  An eroded angel’s head still stands out from the ornately scrolled INRI block at the head of the cross, while a winged angel relief appears on the pedestal.
text © 2016 Richard D. Perry.  cross images © Niccolò Brooker

see our other Hidalgo crosses: HuichapanAtlanTlahuelilpaAnaya, Tezontepec; El Cardonal;

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Carved Crosses of Hidalgo: La Magdalena Actopan

  
La Magdalena cross: front; reverse.
Like San Gerónimo, the little chapel of La Magdalena is another former visita of Actopan. Located in the sierra foothills to the east, it also boasts an early atrium cross in a closely related style, its cylindrical arms and shaft crowded with unconventionally depicted Passion objects. 
A simplified, loose Crown of Thorns encircles the crossing, framing a grinning, moon-like Face with hooded, closed eyes. Elongated spikes pierce fan style Wounds along the arms which sprout abbreviated cluster finials. On the shaft the Host floats above a chalice from which spill drops of water or blood. 
Other Passion reliefs embellish the reverse side including a hammer, a scourge and a rooster atop a column.
   Various plant reliefs snake up the sides of the cross which is firmly set on a vase like pedestal lined with leaves or feathers reminiscent of a baptismal font. 
   The surmounting plaque is inscribed with the letters S M (Santa Maria) instead of the customary INRI.
text © 2016 Richard D. Perry cross images by Niccolò Brooker
see our other Hidalgo crosses: HuichapanAtlanTlahuelilpa; San Gerónimo Actopan; 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Carved Crosses of Hidalgo: San Jerónimo Actopan

In an earlier post we looked at the crosses of Actopan, one of the great Augustinian priories, located in central Hidalgo.  Here we review several crosses in smaller villages in the vicinity of Actopan, starting with that at San Jerónimo.

This former visita of Actopan possesses a humble atrium cross fashioned in the regional cylindrical style.
  The downcast Face of Christ at the axis sheds relief tears, carefully carved into the visage—an unusual and affecting touch. 
In addition to the worn Crown of Thorns above the Face, a much weathered, necklace style Crown is draped around the crossing. 
Three Wounds, each pierced by huge Spikes and spurting gouts of gore, complement the agonized visage of Christ. 
Because of its diminutive size and obvious history of wear, tear and reassemblage—the lower part of the shaft has gone—the cross bears few Passion symbols; Sun and Moon reliefs project under the arms, while a vestigial Cockerel at the foot once perched on a now missing Column. Fragmentary reliefs of other Instruments appear on the sides. 
   Eroded, foliar finials terminate either arm and a riven INRI scroll in the ornate area manner heads the cross.
San Geronimo Actopan, gable cross
A second, smaller but similarly configured antique cross perches atop the church gable, its INRI inscription curiously reversed by the native sculptor.
text © 2016 Richard D. Perry cross images by Niccolò Brooker
see our other Hidalgo crosses: Huichapan; Atlan; Tlahuelilpa;

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Carved Crosses of Hidalgo: San Pedro Tezontepec

Known as Villa Tezontepec to distinguish it from Santiago Tezontepec in western Hidalgo, the old convento of San Pedro just across the state line from Mexico State, is primarily distinguished by its superb 16th century murals. However, Tezontepec also boasts several stone crosses, although not from this early period.  
The Atrium Crosses
A pair of plain, squared redstone crosses stands to either side of the atrium, one set on a globe and the other on a vase like pedestal.
  
The Cloister Cross
But of more interest from our perspective is the cloister cross. 
Although from all appearances post colonial in date and partly reassembled, the cylindrical style cross boasts a broad range of bold but flatly carved Passion objects generously spaced around the shaft including several Hands, an upended water Jug and a Cockerel aloft above the Column.
By contrast, the finely modeled Face of Christ at the crossing is framed by a soft, necklace style Crown draped along the arms and around the now plain neck of the cross. 
reverse side with sun and moon reliefs
Large sun and moon reliefs project beneath the arms, which are capped by flared, zigzag finials. A damaged INRI plaque atop the cross features ornamental scrolls in the regional manner.
text and images © 2016 Richard D. Perry