Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tlaxcalan crosses: Santa Cruz Tlaxcala

This is the first of two posts on the arts of Santa Cruz de Tlaxcala:
Santa Cruz Tlaxcala
In addition to the eponymous bejeweled cross lodged in the gilded retablo inside the church, two other crosses—of carved stone by way of contrast—survive in the precincts of this venerable 16th century Franciscan monastery.
The Facade Cross
Possibly once mounted in the atrium but now housed in an upper niche, this large early colonial cross is hewn from gray basalt. 

   Simple in outline, its raised borders along the slender arms and shaft enclose a variety of Passion related and extraneous objects, many of them quite curiously posed and not easily discerned because of the height, angle and protective netting.
The eroded Face at the crossing is complemented by disembodied hands on either arm and crossed feet on the lower shaft (circled)—one of the few early examples of a cross designed as the physical if abbreviated body of Christ.
Aside from the higgledy-piggledy placement, odd items include a single, quarter round Wound on the side of the shaft, a pair of vases with corn plants at the foot, assorted pikes and a mysterious floral device with two egg like objects on the neck of the cross.

The Gateway Cross
A second, much eroded and possibly older basalt cross now stands atop the atrium gateway. Within its incised outline and flared finials, traces are still evident of some Passion reliefs such as drilled Wounds and possibly a Face or Crown at its axis. An inscrutable date or acronym is carved into the neck.

See our other posts on the crosses of Tlaxcala: 
ApetatitlanTeolocholcoTlatelulcoXiloxoxtlaAtzitzimititlán; Huactzinco
text and graphic © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color images courtesy of Niccolò Brooker

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