Monday, December 1, 2014

The Chapels of Ixtla: Introduction

Former Mexican president Felipe Calderón at the inauguration
 of a restored Otomí chapel near Tolimán, Qro.

The Chapels of Ixtla
From ancient times, even before the arrival of the Spaniards, the indigenous Otomí and Pamé peoples of central Mexico followed a tradition of building and maintaining so-called oratorios familiares or shrines dedicated to family or clan deities. 
   After the Spanish conquest and the evangelization of the area by Catholic priests and friars, many of these capillas became shrines to Christian saints. Although many were abandoned following the disruption of the conquest and evangelization, some of the larger structures have survived as barrio chapels in the Otomí communities of Hidalgo, Guanajuato and Querétaro, north of the Mexican capital.
   Dating from as early as the 17th century, although most are later, these capillas are typically small in scale and modestly ornamented, although several can boast carved doorways, domes or bell towers, with vaulted and often extensively painted interiors.
San Miguel Ixtla, parish church
The subject of this series of posts is a particular group of chapels in the environs of San Miguel Ixtla, a border community between the states of Guanajuato and Querétaro.  There are more than 30 chapels in the vicinity, the many of them family capillas, some abandoned and others still in use.  
   Since the late 1990s a major conservation project, Proyecto San Miguel Ixtla, conducted by INAH and other agencies along with community involvement, has been ongoing to document, conserve and even restore some of the more important chapels.
   In this series we focus on five of these: La Capilla de Ojo Zarco (aka El Templo del Barrio); San Isidro, the largest of the chapels, and the painted chapel of La Pintada. We also look at two smaller ones, those of La Capilla de Los Angeles and La Capilla Segunda de Najar.
   Some of the capillas retain carved stone crosses within their precincts, both of colonial origin and of more recent vintage.

text © 2014 Richard D. Perry
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1 comment:

  1. I would like to buy the book Mexican Stone Crosses.
    How can I get it?