Friday, April 11, 2014

More Hidalgo Missions: Tlahuelilpa, the Cross

In our earlier posts on the chapels of Metztitlan, we featured several stone crosses.  The state of Hidalgo is especially rich in these sculpted monuments, many of which are richly and inventively carved in great detail. 
For our final post on Tlahuelilpa we look at its carved cross, a prime example of the genre.

 The Atrium Cross
Now mounted atop the church facade and not easy to examine, this former atrium cross is yet another example of the fine stone carving to be found at this exquisite little Franciscan mission. 
Surprisingly little eroded, the cross is tightly composed and confidently carved in the style of the cross at nearby Huichapan (see below) although on a much smaller scale.

  • The cross is covered with numerous Passion symbols, sculpted in bold relief. At center, the mask like visage of Christ is ringed by a twisted Crown of Thorns above the brow. A second, larger, softer Crown below the Face is draped necklace style around the neck of the cross. 
  •      Slender bands, perhaps representing a liturgical Stole, emerge from beneath the spines and wind around either arm, next to narrow, stylized Wounds with angled nails and rivulets of blood.
  •      Other Passion reliefs encircle the bulbous lower shaft, notably an eroded Rooster and floral spray atop a festooned Column, which is flanked by a Ladder and a Sun face on the left. A splashy third Wound spreads out below. 
  •      At the foot of the cross, a multilobed floral Host with a pierced center emerges from a decorative Chalice.
  • Ring moldings and petalled finials cap the short arms and the head of the cross, the latter surmounted by an complex INRI plaque bearing an angel’s head with spread wings —possibly a later addition, as at nearby Huichapan.

Huichapan: the atrium cross
text © 2014 Richard D. Perry. 
photography by the author, Niccolò Brooker and Patrice Schmitz

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