Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Oaxaca: the statues of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo, the cloister
A prime destination for visitors to Oaxaca is the opulent city church of Santo Domingo and its adjacent former convento, now a state cultural center, home to the noted Burgoa Library and the extensive Museo de la Culturas de Oaxaca.
Among the treasures of the Museo are its displays of colonial arts, housed in renovated galleries off the upper cloister.  
   In this post we focus on the statuary: a representative selection of carved and painted wooden figures in varying states of preservation, largely drawn from area churches. As such they portray prominent religious and biblical personages.
Contrasting portraits of the founders of the Mendicant Orders, saints Dominic and Francis, are included. They depict Dominic as magisterial, richly robed and holding his symbols of office, while Francis is shown as a more humble and ascetic figure.
Saints Peter and Paul are portrayed likewise: Paul as a heroic standing figure with his sword and book of epistles, and in contrast, an agonized Peter, barefoot and seated humbly with a battered and sorrowful face.
Two statues of female saints show Mary Magdalene, here looking up in awe although missing her long haired wig and jar of ointment, and a polychrome bust of Saint Lucy, formerly used as a reliquary, holding her eyes on a plate.
Once again, a simple, seated figure of the youthful, barefoot St. John the Evangelist is in sharp contrast to the elaborately costumed and well shod statue of St. Joachim, the elderly father of the Virgin Mary, sitting proudly in his baronial chair. 
Youthful and beardless like John the Evangelist, St. Joseph is tenderly portrayed as a loving father to the Christ child, while a bearded God the Father sits in majesty upon his celestial throne.

Please review our page on the murals of Santo Domingo, posted on our sister blog.
text and photography © 2017 by Richard D. Perry and Rosalind Perry.  All rights reserved


  1. Richard- I just responded to your email about the Cuilapan photo- did you get it?

  2. Fascinating comparisons! Thanks, Richard.