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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.
For a complete list of our crosses pages go to our archive

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