Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Aguascalientes. The Jesus Maria retablo

Our next couple of posts will focus on churches of note in Aguascalientes, the city and its hinterland, not already covered in our blog: 

In 1735, the foundation were laid for the Church of the Nazarene in the town of Jesus Maria not far from the city of Aguascalientes. Although some of the labor and material costs were raised by alms, much of the funding was provided by the priest Colon de Larreategui, a relative of Colon de Larreategui the wealthy merchant who underwrote several projects in the region.
The church was completed by 1750, and a grand retablo mayor was installed, designed and constructed by Juan Garcia de Castañeda in the celebrated Ureña Aguascalientes workshop.

Although there have been some later changes, most obviously in the center pavilion and possibly the upper pediment, the retablo bears key features associated with the felipense style.       Narrow estípites, emblazoned with the signature “winged circle” motif and headed by opulent, elongate Composite capitals, frame the curtained sculpture niches on either side. 

It is possible that this sumptuous work may, in fact, be one of the altarpieces originally created by the Ureñas and García de Castañeda for the cathedral in the city of Aguascalientes—one that was dedicated to San José and later reportedly destroyed. The statue of St. Joseph is especially fine, giving weight to the story.!

text © 2023 Richard D. Perry. Images courtesy of Nick Brooker and online sources.
look for our forthcoming story of Felipe de Ureña and ghis family

 Known as El maestro transhumante, the "peripatetic master", Felipe de Ureña was the most influential of the Mexican born architect /designers to introduce and expand the Churrigueresque or barroco estípite style into New Spain. During the second half of the 18th century, together with family members, he was primarily responsible for the spread and subsequent evolution of this ornate late baroque style into cities across Mexico, especially along the silver routes north of Mexico City. Primarily an innovative designer and fabricator of altarpieces, he later adapted the barroco estípite style as it was called, for church facades. His elegant and distinctive designs are recognized as the "felipense" style.
View these links to some other Ureña altarpieces: Rayas ChapelAguascalientesCataLa Valenciana

Friday, January 13, 2023

Chiapas. Cuxtitali

This charming little ermita church is located at the heart of a barrio on the northeast edge of the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Built in the 1650s, it was originally subject to the nearby priory of Santo Domingo.
Cuxtitali is a classic pueblo-de-indios church, its simple nave covered by a pitched artesonado roof in the Chiapanec style. Brick buttresses reinforce the original adobe walls and an external stairway on the north side gives access to the raised, wooden choir.
    The facade is a rustic delight with ever changing colors. Recently, its naive architectural and decorative elements were picked out in baby blue against the brilliant whitewashed front. The rounded arches of the various openings—the doorway, the choir window, the side niches and the upper bell arcade—create a pleasing counterpoint to the grid of flat pilasters and string courses. Whimsical corner volutes and a zig-zag frieze energize the undulating gable of the espadaña, which is also accented by a trio of red bells. 
But the most intriguing feature of the facade is the cluster of naive stucco reliefs depicting the instruments of Christ's Passion. The sacred heart, embossed above the choir window, stands amid the scourge, the crown of thorns, the crowing cock and the hammer and nails, accompa-nied by a pair of hovering angels. A ladder and an overflowing chalice appear on the adjacent pilasters flanked by a folksy sun and moon.
Seasonal decoration of the church reaches its height during the barrio fiesta of El Dulce Nombre de Jesús, held early in January. At that time, the venerable statue of San Sebastián, which stands on an altar in the church, is dressed in an elaborately looped loincloth, Guatemalan style, in readiness for his saint's day at the end of the month.

text and images © 2023 Richard D. Perry
all rights reserved

Friday, January 6, 2023

Yucatan. Feliz Dia de Los Reyes

At the beginning of last year we decided after ten years to taper the posts on this blog. We have done this but at year's end still have a number of items to post which we will do over the next few months on an occasional basis.

Thanks again to all our readers who have supported us over the past decade.

As is our custom we mark January 6th, El Dia de Los Reyes with images of the Three Kings from different parts of Mexico.

This year we show a variety of folkloric figures from Yucatán.


Feliz 2023 a todos

images  ©1988/1990 Richard D. Perry 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Yucatan. San Pedro Tekal

Tekal “Stone House with Flat Roof”

The little yellow church of San Pedro Tekal stands on a high platform, formerly a Maya temple mound. A steep flight of steps leads up to the gated entry of the walled atrium.
The arcaded triple espadaña above the church front, decorated with onion finials, was probably added in the 1800s.
The elevated apse, battlemented and supporting a belfry, may date from the 16th century when Tekal was a visita of Izamal. 
The nave is vaulted in traditional manner with log ceilings resting on broad stone archesThe sacristy is reached through a narrow passageway and contains several crucifixes. 

The silo-like stair tower on the north side, encloses a classic spiral caracol stairway, and a venerable monolithic baptismal font still stands in the nave.

Main Retablo
This altarpiece rests in the apse, framed by variety of spiral columns that enclose ornate reliefs. A statue of St Peter, the titular saint, occupies the upper niche.

text and images © 2022 Richard D. Perry

Monday, December 5, 2022

Yucatan. Tixhualactún

Tixhualactún, " place where one graven stone is placed upon another ”
is located just southeast of Valladolid, Yucatán's second city.
The most striking feature when you enter Tixhualactún is the huge crumbling old 17th century church on the main plaza, La Iglesia del Santo Cristo de la Exaltación or The Church of Saint Christ of the Exultation. 
Many of the building materials used to build this old church were in fact re-cycled from a previous Mayan temple standing here, said to be dedicated to the Maya god of rain and thunder, Chaac.
   In a state of nearly total neglect the substantial stone structure lost its vaulted roof to a cave-in—possibly a casualty of lightning strikes or more likely the result of fierce fighting here during the 19th century Caste War.

The facade is spectacularly cracked from top to bottom, threatening collapse. The entry archway is adorned by relief rosettes, an unusual feature in Yucatán.
Within the roofless nave, whose exposed walls are plain and rain streaked, a makeshift tin roofed shed stands before the lofty arched sanctuary, probably originally built as part of a former open “indian” chapel here.
Ogee arches and Moorish style pillars of the church porteria.

text ©2022 Richard D. Perry
images by the author and from online sources

to review our Yucatan posts search under this name

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Puebla. San Agustín.

Although its formal name is "Temple of the Incarnation of Our Lady" or "Santa María de Gracia", this city church is best known as San Agustín after the religious order that built it. Construction began in 1555, however,  it was not opened for worship until 1612, still unfinished.
The west front is designed in classic 
sober Pueblan style, and dates from the 17th century. It is divided by Doric-style pilasters, some fluted, that enclose shell niches housing sculptures of notable saints of the Order: Saint Monica and, among others, San Nicolás Tolentino, San Guillermo de Tolosa and San Juan de Sahagún.
statues of St Monica (l) and John of Sahagún (r)

San Agustín relief - detail
In the upper part there is a marble relief representing "The vision of Saint Augustine" The saint is seen praying on his knees flanked by Latin inscriptions: hence I feed from the wound, hence I nurse to suckle, referring to reliefs of Christ crucified and the Virgin Mary respectively in the upper corners of the tableau.

The renovated interior of the church is distinguished by the imposing statue of St Augustine above the main altar, and a old, scarred crucifix known as El Santo Cristo de Burgos.
text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
images from online sources
for other posts on Puebla search under that heading

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Morelos. San Agustín Tepetlixpita

The chapel of San Agustín Tepetlixpita is one of several isolated open chapels dating from the early years (mid-1500s) of the evangelization of the region by the Augustinians; in this case as a visita of nearby Totolapan and Huatlatlahuca.
elevations by JB Artigas
Although altered over the centuries, the basic plan and structure has endured; it consists of a square apse with a rectangular transverse nave attached in front. 
The apse is framed by battlemented walls with a belfry, and capped by a dome.
current view -2021
The nave is fronted by a plain triple arcade braced by intervening buttresses; all archways were open at one time but are now partially blocked with the exception of the altered central arch now framing the entry.
A rare early regional example of a chapel with a transverse nave in this region.

text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
Graphic © Juan Benito Artigas. Photography by Niccolo Brooker and Robert Jackson