Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mexican Crosses: Capacho

Capacho church front  (image © Niccolo Brooker)
Girded by a large walled atrium, the sober 17th century church of El Señor de La Expiración stands at the top of this small hillside village, located between Cuitzeo and Huandacareo on the north shore of Lake Cuitzeo.

Capacho is home to no less than three carved stone crosses:

 Capacho, the atrium cross: front
The Atrium Cross
The largest and most impressive is this tall, square cross, mounted on a sculpted, hollow pedestal facing the church.
   Although apparently reconstructed and partially recarved, the cross incorporates several distinctive regional features, notably its prominent, blocky "sunflower" finials at the head and capping both arms. 
  Unlike at Cuitzeo, the cross is sculpted with numerous reliefs, mostly of objects related to Christ's Passion. On the front, a hirsute but worn face of Christ occupies the crossing. Hammer and Pincers appear on either side of the Face along the arms, together with outlying, seemingly bleeding Hands. 
   The shaft, although seemingly later, is badly cracked, held together by metal bands. It is carved on all four sides, with a simplified Chalice, an elongated Wound and a Rooster atop a jug like Column on the front. 
   A second, mustachioed face, probably intended as a skull, appears at the foot.  
Capacho, the atrium cross: reverse
On the reverse side, the Sun and Moon flank a wreath like Crown of Thorns at the crossing that encloses three Spikes. 
   Other Passion symbols down the shaft include a Hand, Corn Plant, Dice and unusually, a scorpion like figure with a human head and a bag tied around the neck from which tumbles a cascade of coins—a unique representation of Judas.  
But perhaps the most unusual part of the cross is the hollow pedestal upon which it rests. On its front, a statue of the Virgin of Sorrows is placed before a scalloped opening, perhaps indicating a sepulcher or shrine for offerings. 
The back side of the pedestal is carved like a plinth, with scrolls and a long, dated inscription (1660?) An incised plaque bears a rare portrayal of the Trifacial Trinity with three interlocking, bearded heads.

Cross Two (image © Niccolo Brooker)
Cross 2
A second cross, very similar in style and imagery to the main cross, either a replica or possibly the original, rests in a corner of the atrium.
Cross 3.
Set against the atrium wall by the entrance gate is a third cross, also with worn block finials. Although otherwise plain, it bears an eroded Heart relief, as at Cuitzeo, and the remnants of a tilted head with crossed arms at its axis, reminiscent, as we shall see, of the cross at Huandacareo.

text and images ©2014 Richard D. Perry, except where noted

look for our forthcoming guide to Mexican Stone Crosses

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