Following our previous post on a "lost mission" of Yucatán, we look now at one of the region's better known colonial survivals.
Last year we ran a series of posts on outstanding colonial altarpieces of Yucatán, many of which have been restored in recent years. Among the other magnificent 18th century retablos extant in the peninsula, the recently restored main altarpiece at Calotmul is a classic of its kind.As the shrine to Our Lady of Calotmul (La Purísima), in colonial times San Esteban Calotmul was an important pilgrimage stop on the way to Tizimín from Valladolid in northeastern Yucatán.
The venerated image of the Virgin, brought from Spain and dating from the 16th century, was credited as a protectress of mariners. She was displayed in the main altarpiece and housed in an elevated camarín behind it. On special feast days the image descends from the altarpiece into the nave.
|San Esteban Calotmul in 1984|
The monumental square facade, anchored by massive flanking towers bereft of belfries, is reminiscent of the earlier church of Los Reyes Tizimín, its heavily buttressed exterior enlivened with arched niches and decorative merlons above.
|Calotmul, nave exterior, south side (1984)|
|Calotmul, nave interior (2007)|
The broad center pavilion, or calle, of the altarpiece gently pushes forward, subtly focusing attention on the central cult image of La Purísima.In the classic regional pattern, intertwined passages of gilded floral and filigree ornament fill every space, standing out against the burgundy background.
|Calotmul, main retablo sculpture niche (©Jürgen Putz)|