Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Mexican Murals. Tzintzuntzan: two portraits (update)

San Francisco Tzintzuntzan 
Portraits of saints, martyrs and other notables, both biblical and connected to the religious orders, abound in early murals adorning the missions and conventos of Mexico. However it is rare to find portraits of specific persons in the places to which they are historically connected. 
   The grand monastery of Tzintzuntzan, beside Lake Patzcuaro in Michoacán, is even more unusual in that it contains mural portraits of two eminent Franciscans who worked and held important positions there and in the immediate area in early colonial times.
The first portrait is located in the arcaded porteria in front of the convento.  A black robed figure is identified in a ribbon style Spanish inscription as Fray Pedro de Pila, the builder of Tzintzuntzan and other area Franciscan missions.
   He is flanked by diminutive native and Spanish dignitaries rendered in a range of red, blue, green and earth and flesh tones that suggest a date in the early 1600s.  A second inscription, with a bishop's crozier and miter, quotes St Paul, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth good works.”
The second mural, also in color and located on the main stairway to the upper cloister, portrays Fray Jácobo Daciano, a pioneering Franciscan and aristocratic founder of many missions in Michoacán, including nearby Tarecuato* where he is buried. 
   An associate and reputed mentor of Fray Pedro de Pila, Fray Jácobo is shown in his traditional apostolic guise as a pilgrim with cloak, staff and broad hat.
text, graphic and color images © 2016 Richard D. Perry
see our other posts on Mexican Murals:  CuautinchánXometla; Culhuacán; Zacualpan
Ozumba; Tlalmanalco; Ixmilquilpan; Mama;  Izucar; Tree murals; Tepeapulco; Tula; Epazoyucan; Zempoala; Yecapixtla;
*for more on Tarecuato and Fray Jacobo Daciano see our guidebook Blue Lakes & Silver Cities

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