Sunday, September 15, 2013

Missions of Michoacán: Tarímbaro

Tarimbaro in 1585
Long before the Spaniards came to Michoacán, the ladies of the Tarascan court favored Tarímbaro as a place to rest and relax.
Situated amid fertile farmland north of Morelia, this 500 year old former royal resort is the site of a 16th century Franciscan monastery—now a popular shrine to the Virgin of the Stairway whose cult image is housed in a sumptuous new chapel.

An enclosed atrium planted to large shade trees fronts the monastery buildings across from the busy village plaza. A churchyard cross, mostly plain except for its bulbous arms and shaft, stands in front of the doorway.

The plain church facade, completed in the years before 1600, is surprisingly wide and well proportioned, its spartan Renaissance doorway flanked by coffered panels inset with wheel-like rosettes.

The adjoining convento, dating from the 1570s, is even older than the church. Its portería arcade is missing, exposing the monumental open chapel, whose great coffered archway is anchored by massive, fluted jambs.
A ribbed half dome vaults the chapel interior, fitted with a continuous stone bench all around. Although it appears similar to the Augustinian chapel at Cuitzeo, the form of the chapel is more likely derived from the Franciscan chapels at Tzintzuntzan and Erongarícuaro.

The cloister, originally in two stories, is now confined to a single level, whose Tuscan arcades confer a simple elegance. Fragments of the narrative murals that lined the walks have been partially restored, notably a Crucifixion.

The murals in the baptistry are better preserved, including the Baptism of Christ with the Virgin Mary, Christ in Glory, Sun and Moon.
The figures are simply delineated in flowing lines of gray/blue grisaille accented with passages of red and brown.

Steps on the south side of the cloister lead up through the sacristy, whose walls are covered with devotional ex-votos, to the modern chapel of the Virgin of the Stairway, now provided with its own separate entrance and alameda.
text © 1997 & 2013 Richard D. Perry  All rights reserved
drawings by the author.  color images courtesy of Niccolò Brooker

No comments:

Post a Comment