Monday, December 28, 2015

The Otomí chapels of Toliman: Los Luna

In an earlier series we explored the capillas familiares of San Miguel Ixtla in Guanajuato. Other groups of family chapels are found elsewhere among the Otomí speaking communities of Hidalgo and Querétaro. 
   In this and following posts we look at several related capillas in the area of Toliman, in the state of Querétaro, starting with the painted chapel of Los Luna.
La Capilla de Los Luna
Nzuño (Otomí) 
Formerly a shop, this modest but carefully restored family chapel is now called jo, or cross in Otomí.  A carved stone cross sits atop the gabled front.
But the principal interest, as with most chapels of this kind, is the painted interior, displaying a variety of colorful murals of exceptional quality, now also nicely restored.
Nativity with Three Kings
Drawn in a lively folkloric style and rendered in vivid red, blue, black and earth colors, they illustrate episodes in the life of Christ and the Virgin, notably the Annunciation, with the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the Nativity, the Baptism of Christ, the Flight into Egypt, and the Assumption.
Flight into Egypt

Other figures include Spanish and native dancers.

The colorful main altar has a painted cross with angels and archangels, as well as several wooden crosses and a crucifix.  
Among the chief delights of the Los Luna murals are the musical angels. Surrounding the sun and moon images at the apex of the curved ceiling and cavorting atop flower bedecked friezes, the angels play a wide variety of string, wind, brass and percussion instruments and include a rare St. Cecilia at the pipe organ.

text © 2015 Richard D. Perry.  images by Ana Medina Manrique and from internet sources.

link to a recent, more detailed analysis of the murals


  1. Hi Richard I love your blog. I have only been to Mexico one but I was just stunned by it. I'd really like to use one of your pictures of the jaws of hell at Xoxoteco in my university essay, I am studying for a theology degree at Cambridge. Would that be OK/ I'll give you full credit, and it will only be seen by my examiners. All the best Sally

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