Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tlayacapan: the barrio chapels 3

In this third and final post on the chapels of Tlayacapan we picture several ermitas on the outskirts of the town that mark traditional exit points from the village, such as San NicolásSan Lorenzo, La Natividad and El Tránsito, as well as some other minor capillas. 
San Nicolás is a typical boundary ermita, now restored and in use, notable for its span of brick vaulting. The chapel also sustained damage in the September 19 quake, with the partial loss of it belfry. No word yet on effects on the interior.
San Nicolás after the quake
El Tránsito. Except for a toppled merlon beside its surmounting espadaña, this recently restored and re-painted chapel front seems to have suffered little 'quake damage.
San Lorenzo
Likewise, the chapel of San Lorenzo escaped with the cracking of its belfry and the loss of a single merlon.
La Natividad
Like several others, the attractive chapel of La Natividad suffered a fallen tower and sections of its gable.
La Natividad after the 'quake
A number of smaller chapels also mark ancient topographic or sacred sites as well as places of private and public devotion in outlying barrios of Tlayacapan. 
   These include those of San Miguel, San Jerónimo, La Magdalena and the Guadalupe Chapel, all of which appear to have suffered minimal damage according to these post quake pictures, except for the rustic ermita of La Magdalena whose belfry broke.
San Miguel
San Jerónimo
La Magdalena
Plus three smaller chapels on the west side of Tlayacapan:
La Asunción
La Concepción, with damaged belfry
San Diego
We will update this post if and when more data and pictures are forthcoming. Many thanks to Robert Jackson who has undertaken to visit, photograph and report on earthquake damage in Tlayacapan and the stricken state of Morelos.

Text © Richard D. Perry.  new color images © 2017 courtesy of Robert Jackson

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tlayacapan: the barrio chapels 2

In our first post on these chapels we looked at the "big four"—those marking the sites of the prehispanic temples of Tlayacapan.
   In this second post we describe other leading barrio chapels, including Santa Cruz de AlticaTlaxcalchica, and the ornate chapel of San Martín, together with notes on any recent earthquake damage.
Santa Cruz de Altica, the chapel front and the Holy Cross
Santa Cruz de Altica
Behind its plain front, this chapel hosts a variety of colonial paintings, mostly in poor condition. These include a crowded Last Supper and a fine but faded Animas with God the Father cradling the dead Christ. There is also an eponymous painted cross, similar to that at Santa Ana.

Altica after the 'quake
Sadly, Altica lost its single tower in the recent earthquake.
Tlaxcalchica after the quake
This tiny folk chapel presents a "retablo" style facade, whose plain paired pilasters and curved openings are boldly accented in red paint. The chapel front suffered minimal damage, with the loss of a belfry merlon.
San Martín
Located beside the Rosario chapel, San Martín is the grandest of the Tlayacapan chapels, with twin towers, a central espadaña bristling with merlons, and a complex front 
with multiple niches of varying size and shape and a variety of columns. 
All these architectural elements are interposed with passages of ornamental, carved stucco relief, formerly painted. Most of the decoration is in the form of foliated motifs, although some animals appear together with stylized, crowned, Imperial two-headed eagles above the niches.*
Unfortunately the towers especially suffered considerable damage during the quake, including large cracks and fallen arches, and remain in a precarious state.
*According to legend, when the plan for the Tlayacapan chapels was shown to the Emperor Charles V, he demanded that a special, chapel be erected on the western side, the grandest of all, dedicated to Martin of Tours and on which the Hapsburg Imperial insignia be prominently displayed. 
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color images courtesy of Robert Jackson and Niccolò Brooker

Monday, October 9, 2017

Tlayacapan: the barrio chapels 1

For this post, the first of three, we return to Tlayacapan to review some of the numerous barrio chapels that surround the main priory of San Juan Bautista.  In view of the September 19 earthquake in the region, during which Tlayacapan was hard hit, we are updating this survey to include new information and pictures, as they become available, on any damage caused to these historic chapels. 
San Juan Bautista Tlayacapan before the 9/19 earthquake (© Felipe Falcón)
Tlayacapan is best known for its venerable Augustinian fortress monastery of John the Baptist (above), whose convento is the location of spectacular 16th century religious frescoes, as well as a local museum filled with colonial art treasures.
   Less well known are the numerous barrio chapels of Tlayacapan. Originally 26 in number, some have disappeared or are in ruins. 18 currently function and more are being gradually restored and coming back into use. 

   While some are simple, even humble structures, several of the chapels are surprisingly elaborate with decorative facades, towers, espadañas and ornamental gateways, many dating from colonial times.
Ancient Tlayacapan
In Aztec times the village was divided into four calpulli, or barrios: north, south, east and west, each with its teocalli, or temple, marking the cardinal directions. The four principal chapels were founded on these former temple sites and remain in their traditional locations relative to the central plaza and monastery. (see map)
   They are Santa Ana, towards the sierra on the north; La Exaltación (or Capilla de La Cruz) to the south, home of the miracle-working Black Christ, an object of local pilgrimage; Santiago, (or Santiaguito) in the barrio of Los Brujos across a barranca to the east; and El Rosario, a few blocks west of the parish church. These four are the subject of our first post. We will treat the others of note in subsequent posts.
Santa Ana
Although one of the most important chapels, the heavily buttressed ermita of Santa Ana is surprisingly modest, although well maintained. A painted stone statue of the patron Saint Anne with the young Mary graces a circular niche in the facade.
   Fragments of murals still cling to the walls, and in the nave stands a carved, painted stone cross from colonial times.
images ©Niccolò Brooker
Santa Ana after the 9/19 quake

Despite its sturdy construction, the less substantial espadaña above the facade suffered considerable damage and cracks appeared in the buttresses.
La Exaltación  
Although modest in scale with an undistinguished facade, this shrine to the venerated Christ of Exaltation is perhaps the most important and the most visited of the Tlayacapan chapels.
   Again, while there is no word yet on the soundness of the church fabric, the belfry sustained numerous cracks and appears in danger of collapse.
The belfry at La Exaltacion post 9/19
Señor Santiago
This imposing chapel boasts a broad front with angled twin towers and an elegant central espadaña (belfry). Minor damage is reported to the bell gable and at least one tower following the 'quake.
Santiago cracked tower
El Rosario
One of the more elaborate chapels, with an elegant retablo facade and large espadaña. Home of the Virgin of the Rosary.
.... and noted for boisterous Carnival celebrations with dancing chinelos.
earthquake damage at El Rosario was limited to cracks in the gable, with some fallen masonry
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color images by the author, Niccolo Brooker and courtesy of Robert Jackson.
 *Check out our most recent update on earthquake damage in Morelos
Please review our other recent posts on the colonial arts of Morelos:  Atlatlahucan; Tlaquiltenango; Oaxtepec; Tlaltizapan; Cuernavaca; Temimilcingo; Tepoztlan;

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mexico State: earthquake damage update

In our previous post we focused on damage to some of the better known colonial buildings in the valley of Mexico.  Here we look at two badly hit churches in lesser known communities of the region, both on the eastern side of Mexico State (EDOMEX)
Tepetlizpa before the 'quake
Located on the lower slopes of the volcano Popocatépetl—which has shown renewed activity since the 9/19 temblor—Tepetlizpa (On the Face of the Mountain) lies close to the Morelos state line and has several churches at risk. 
   We focus here on the handsome, red painted church of San Esteban, whose soaring tower was a victim of the 'quake, crashing to the ground and taking part of the massive facade with it. 
San Lorenzo Tlalmimilolpan before the 'quake
Due north, located near the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan, the village church of San Lorenzo Tlalmimilolpan (Where the Land Slides) also suffered severe cracks to its facade and, more seriously, the nave vault collapsed.
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry. images from online sources.
thanks to Felipe Falcón who drew these to our attention.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mexico. earthquake damage in Mexico city and state

We interrupt our scheduled posts to bring you information on earthquake damage to colonial monuments in Mexico, as it becomes available, with pictures if possible.  Please check again in for further updates.
Mexico City. Metropolitan cathedral, fallen statue of Hope (by Manuel Tolsá)
Colonial monuments in Mexico City (CDMX) and the state (EDOMEX) seem to have survived the 'quake better than in neighboring Puebla and Morelos. But widespread damage has been reported.
The great monastery at San Juan Coyoacán sustained relatively minor damage due to falling masonry from the corner tower.  
The recently restored front of the historic nearby chapel of La Conchita shows new cracks.
The old gateway at San Bernardino Xochimilco collapsed. The monastery church itself appears intact, although others in the area have not been so lucky.
Sta Maria Malinalco
Large cracks have appeared in the painted cloister of the Augustinian priory of El Salvador Malinalco, and damage is reported in the museum there, as well as in numerous barrio chapels including San Juan, Santa Mónica, la Soledad, San Andrés, San Nicolás, Santa Maria and San Martin.
Milpa Alta (©Robert Jackson)
The belfry of the venerable church of Asuncion Milpa Alta collapsed, taking its bell with it. No word on interior damage.
Milpa Alta (©Robert Jackson)
San Pedro & San Pablo Ecatzingo, fallen cupola
The parish church of San Pedro & San Pablo in Ecatzingo largely collapsed.
San Pedro & San Pablo Ecatzingo, before and after the quake 

And the churches and chapels of Ocuilan sustained even greater damage:

text © 2017 Richard D. Perry.
images courtesy of Robert Jackson and from online sources