Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cajititlan: San Lucas

This post is the second in a series on the architecture and sculpture of three traditional villages, of Los Reyes, San Lucas and San Juan Evangelista, on the shores of Lake Cajititlan, south of Guadalajara.
Each community boasts a colonial church or chapel, ornamented in exquisite Jaliscan popular baroque style.
Here we look at the chapel of San Lucas (St. Luke) on the southern side of the lake, nestled in a churchyard of old crosses, gravestones and acacia trees.
Most of the intricately carved portal has survived, its surfaces enlivened with naive reliefs of angels and assorted animals, including a two-headed eagle and several oxen—the emblem of St. Luke—that peer out from the whorls and tendrils of sculpted foliage.
Spiral columns wreathed with vines frame the arched entry and choir window overhead, while densely carved foliage fills the intervening spaces. 
   An effigy of Luke the Evangelist with his Gospel is carved on the keystone while cherubs hurry around the archway, carrying books, Instruments of the Passion  or playing antique musical instruments (a design almost identical to that at nearby Santa Anita Atlixtac)
Angels also appear in medallions at each end of the frieze above playing the violin and guitar.  Other examples of architectural sculpture adorn archways in the church and adjacent patio, featuring densely carved effigies of eagles and archangels. 
A statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe is perched precariously in the choir window.
An inscription with the date 1786 above the sacristy doorway includes the name of master mason Martín Sebastián, one of a family of local stone carvers responsible for the architectural decoration of this delightful church as well as others around Lake Cajititlan.
And inside the church an old stone font bears the effigy of a running bull 
text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  
photographic images by the author and ©Niccolo Brooker and Jim Cook.  All rights reserved
For more information on the colonial arts and architecture of Jalisco, consult our guidebook, Blue Lakes & Silver Cities, 
available from Espadaña Press


  1. When I visited this church, my impression was that it was much older than late 18th century. Some of the carvings - especially the animals and angels on the entry arch - resemble tequitqui carvings on earlier churches. two ?s: Do you think the carvings were executed by native craftsmen following rather stylized images from prints as was done in the 16th/17th centuries? AND is would you call the carvings "tequitqui?"

    1. The facades of all these Cajititlan churches are dated in the mid 1700s. I imagine the graphic sources were as you surmise. It is their recreation on a grand scale and in a totally different medium by native craftsmen that makes them such a tour de force, apart from their appeal as delightful sculpture.
      Although the question of whether the term tequitqui can be applied to 18th century work is debated. Some, like Miguel Aguilar Moreno do argue for it. But in my view these are not tequitqui; much of the modeling of the figures is in the round, not flat and sharply undercut relief like true tequitqui.