Another of the churches we visited during the Historic Organ Festival was that of the early Dominican mission of Santiago Tejupan in the Mixteca region of northern Oaxaca.
Land of TurquoiseFormerly the ancient Mixtec kingdom of Texupa, Tejupan was a wealthy, populous community at the time of the Spanish conquest.
It was transformed into a significant Dominican mission town, renowned for the skill of its tlacuilos, or native artists, who in 1579 drew up a beautiful picture map, or lienzo, of the colonial settlement, together with rivers, roads and mountains as well as the mission—one of the finest early examples of this genre in Mexico.
Today the monastery of Santiago faces north, away from the arcaded town plaza, overlooking its vast, empty atrium and the picturesque cemetery beyond. Remodeled with a huge bell tower and a baroque dome, the church nevertheless retains much of its original Dominican character.
The geometrical, layered panels extend along the base of the facade.
Slender floating fluted pilasters—another Dominican architectural feature—enclose the now vacant shell niches on either side. A fluted alfiz caps the divided choir window and a steep triangular pediment surmounts the lofty facade.