Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Santa Cruz de Las Flores: the Crosses

Together with the adjacent parish church of La Soledad, the hospital chapel at Santa Cruz de Las Flores is home to several stone crosses that embody the stylistic traits of the region.
Santa Cruz de las Flores, apsidal cross
The Chapel Cross
One carved stone cross, possibly the original atrium cross, now rests in the chapel apse. Its cross-within-a-cross pattern—simple raised moldings intersecting a double ringed Crown of Thorns motif at the crossing—is in the same style as that we saw at Los Reyes CajititlanHoles on the arms suggest Christ's Wounds. Large poma finials cap the head and arms.
Santa Cruz de las Flores, La Soledad: atrium cross
The Parish Church
The old stone atrium cross still stands in front of the church of La Soledad.  Rectangular in form, with beveled edges, a plain shaft and no finials, it is more austere than the chapel cross. 
   The simple, windblown Crown motif at the crossing is pierced by four Nails angled from the four directions. Highly stylized Wound reliefs on either arm are also surmounted by three Nails, and spray feathery streams of blood to either side.
La Soledad:gable

La Soledad:gable cross
A modern cross, set atop the church gable, is carved with reliefs of Passion objects including nails, stylized ladders, a rooster and, curiously, a corn plant issuing from a jug.
 text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  photographic images: © Diana Roberts & Niccolo Brooker.  
All rights reserved
Look for our forthcoming guide to Mexican Carved Stone Crosses

Monday, May 21, 2012

Santa Cruz de Las Flores: inside the chapel

Because of the interest in this beautiful chapel, we are adding pictures of the unusual interior. 

As we noted in a previous post, the sanctuary and apse of the 16th century open chapel are still preserved. 
Late in the 1600s, an arcaded transverse nave, divided into three shallow aisles, was added to the original sanctuary.

This view of the nave reveals the delicate arcading and the sanctuary arch. The slots for the earlier beamed ceiling are in evidence, and the original atrium cross still stands in the apse.

The ornate entry to the Guadalupe chapel, located beneath the tower, is elaborately carved in the 18th century style of the right portal of the facade (see the earlier post.)
In another post we will look at the various carved stone crosses found in its precincts, along with those of the parish church of La Soledad across the road from the chapel.
text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  photography: © Edward Fesler  
All rights reserved

Friday, May 18, 2012

Santa Cruz de Las Flores

The restored former hospital chapel of this "Place of the Flowers," also in the municipality of Tlajomulco, is one of the best known examples of the Jaliscan popular baroque outside Guadalajara.

Behind its ornate late 17th century front, the sanctuary and apse of the 16th century Franciscan open chapel are still preserved (see plan). In the later 1600s, a large transverse nave, divided into three shallow aisles, was added to the original arcaded sanctuary. The tower was a later addition.

The Facade
According to a dated plaque over the central doorway, the facade was added in 1692. Fashioned from the famous, honey colored cantera amarilla of the area, it is an extraordinary work of popular architecture and sculptural relief.
 A veritable tapestry of carved stone ornament enfolds the triple entries. Fluted pilasters frame the door and window of the center porch, while spiral columns flank the outer porches, their shafts bedecked by flowers, vines and bunches of grapes.  Bands of foliated relief border the windows and doorways, inset with decorative corbels and keystones.
   As was customary with many colonial hospital chapels, Santa Cruz was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The gable niche contains a statue of the Virgin of the Rosary and a side chapel is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The facade is liberally sprinkled with foliated ornament and popular motifs including naive angels and sun motifs with zigzag rays. Friezes are densely carved with urns, rosettes, rustic birds, angels and religious monograms, unifying the facade into a folk baroque tour de force that has inspired imitations throughout the region, at Huentitán, Mezquitán, Santa Anita Atliztac and the churches around Lake Cajititlan.
text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  photography: © Edward Fesler (dated images) & Niccolo Brooker.  
All rights reserved
For more information on the colonial arts and architecture of Jalisco, 
consult our guidebook, Blue Lakes & Silver Cities

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Angels of Cajititlan

Santuario de Guadalupe, keystone
Our final post on the colonial sculpture of Lake Cajititlan looks at the extraordinary variety of stone figures, primarily angels or cherubs, carved on the facades and doorways of the lakeside churches there.  
First, the angels:

Los Reyes Cajititlan: Santuario de Guadalupe, facade angels
San Lucas Cajititlan, keystone angel
San Lucás, nave arch: archangel keystone
San Lucas Cajititlan, archway running angel
San Juan Evangelista Cajititlan, plumed and helmeted angels

Tlajomulco, Archangel Raphael
San Juan Evangelista, nave: St Christopher relief
In addition to the crosses, angels and saints, there are various other sculpted figures and reliefs on the Cajititlan facades and archways.  Here are a few examples:
San Lucás, nave arch: eagle keystone
San Lucás, facade: niche figures

San Juan Evangelista, facade: Guadalupe statue and angel holding vine
Look for our forthcoming page on nearby Santa Cruz de Las Flores, a jewel of the Jaliscan popular baroque.
text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  photographic images: ©Richard D. Perry, Diana Roberts & Niccolo Brooker.  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

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More Crosses of Cajititlan

The Crosses of Cajititlan - 2
Los Reyes.  Santuario de Guadalupe: gable cross
In our second post on the stone crosses of Cajititlan, we present a selection of the smaller wall crosses and reliefs that adorn the churches, chapels and colonial houses of the lakeside communities of Cajititlan.
All of these date from the 1700s or later, and almost all incorporate floral motifs.
Santuario de Guadalupe: facade crucifix
Santuario de Guadalupe: lateral entry, keystone cross
Los Reyes Cajititlan: house cross
San Lucas Cajititlan, foliated cross
< San Lucas Cajititlan: sacristy cross with rosette; keystone with sprouting cross >
Purísima Tlajomulco, fountain cross
Purísima Tlajomulco, gable cross
 text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  photographic images: ©Richard D. Perry, Diana Roberts & Niccolo Brooker.     All rights reserved
Look for our forthcoming guide to Mexican Carved Stone Crosses.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Crosses of Cajititlan

The Crosses of Cajititlan - 1.

In previous posts we have looked at the folk baroque churches of Lake Cajititlan, in the villages of Los Reyes, San Lucas and San Juan Evangelista, as well as nearby Tlajomulco.
   In addition to the wealth of popular architectural sculpture and statuary created by the Sebastián family of talented local masons, numerous carved stone crosses adorn the walls and patios of various colonial buildings in the lake settlements.
While most of these crosses take the form of wall reliefs, others are freestanding atrium crosses—all dating from colonial times.
   We first look at two latter examples, located in Los Reyes and San Lucas.
Los Reyes. atrium cross, front

Los Reyes Cajititlan
Cut from the pitted brownstone of the area, this cross stands atop an ornamental pedestal in front of the basilica, carved with shells and foliage.
    Recessed within projecting borders on the front,  a “cross within a cross” motif carved in a bow shaped profile extends along the arms and shaft. At its axis, it transfixes a stylized, sharply petaled motif signifying a Crown of Thorns.
    Three deep holes on the arms and shaft represent Christ's Wounds, providing for the placement of metal or wooden spikes. A scrolled INRI plaque, in the form of an open book, caps the head of the cross.
 Los Reyes. atrium cross, reverse

On the reverse side, a similar cross within a cross also pierces a floral motif with four, arrow shaped petals at the crossing.  The vertical groove shoots down the entire length of the shaft like an arrow, complete with feathers at the top, while the lines incised along the arms terminate in round buttons that echo the pearl finials.

A deceptively simple but surprisingly sophisticated design.

San Lucás Cajititlan

The little church of San Lucás, opposite Los Reyes on the south side of the lake, also has a weighty stone atrium cross, also fashioned from oolitic local limestone.
   Less complex and artful than the Los Reyes example, it also employs a cross-within-a-cross format. It lacks a decorative head or finials, and is carved on the front only.

Rosettes are cut into the neck and crossing with a floral motif on the upper shaft, while Sun and Moon reliefs appear at the ends of either arm.  A few conventional Passion objects appear on the shaft, notably a Ladder, Spear, and three Nails.
Incised inscriptions appear on the foot and base of the cross with several dates.  Although not entirely complete, they are carved in a script that indicates their colonial origin—no doubt in the 1700s like the 1767 inscription on the sacristy doorway (see our earlier post on San Lucas.)

text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  photographic images ©Niccolo Brooker & Diana Roberts.  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
Look for our forthcoming guide to Mexican Carved Stone Crosses

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

La Purísima Tlajomulco

As part of our series on the churches and chapels of the Lake Cajititlan region, we include the closely related, nearby chapel of La Purísima Tlajomulco.
     Before the arrival of the Spaniards the Kingdom of Tlajomulco was the preeminent indigenous power in the region. And in the 16th century Tlajomulco was the principal Franciscan mission town in the Lake Cajitítlan region, but following destruction of the main church here a new doctrina or missionary hub was established at Los Reyes Cajititlan.
However the former hospital chapel of La Purísima still stands in Tlajomulco, although with a later facade added in the 18th century.

Although the chapel retains its austere 16th century profile—the entry and choir window are soberly classical, albeit enhanced with panels of carved foliage—the crowning gable is more in the Jaliscan baroque style of the churches around Lake Cajititlan.
   Reminiscent of the rounded gable at San Juan Evangelista Cajititlan, with its scrolled cornice and stone cross, it is also a showcase for inventive stone carving.
   A large, complex Virgin's crown, flanked by a pair of cherubs, stands above the niche containing the statue of La Purísima, while the spaces on either side are filled with an unusual filigree design composed of intertwined Franciscan cords ending in outsize tassels.
Dated cross relief and statue of St Raphael
Fine statuary, along with a dated cross relief on the churchyard fountain, again demonstrate the high quality and imagination of the stone working throughout suggest the presence here of skilled masons and sculptors, quite likely members of the noted Sebastián family from nearby Cajititlan.

La Purísima Tlajomulco on El Dia de Los Santos Reyes
Throughout Mexico, today as in colonial times, the Christmas season comes to a climax on January 6th, the Day of the Three Kings or Los Santos Reyes. Presents are exchanged amid communal festivities and traditional religious observances.    
   Although the main regional celebration take place at Los Reyes Cajititlan, the inhabitants of Tlajomulco also commemorate Epiphany, as they have done since early colonial times, and decorate the church in their own festive manner.
text © 2012 Richard D. Perry; 
 photographic images ©Richard Perry & Niccolo Brooker. 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