Friday, October 13, 2017

Tlayacapan: the barrio chapels 2

In our first post on these chapels we looked at the "big four"—those marking the sites of the prehispanic temples of Tlayacapan.
   In this second post we describe other leading barrio chapels, including Santa Cruz de AlticaTlaxcalchica, and the ornate chapel of San Martín, together with notes on any recent earthquake damage.
Santa Cruz de Altica, the chapel front and the Holy Cross
Santa Cruz de Altica
Behind its plain front, this chapel hosts a variety of colonial paintings, mostly in poor condition. These include a crowded Last Supper and a fine but faded Animas with God the Father cradling the dead Christ. There is also an eponymous painted cross, similar to that at Santa Ana.

Altica after the 'quake
Sadly, Altica lost its single tower in the recent earthquake.
Tlaxcalchica after the quake
This tiny folk chapel presents a "retablo" style facade, whose plain paired pilasters and curved openings are boldly accented in red paint. The chapel front suffered minimal damage, with the loss of a belfry merlon.
San Martín
Located beside the Rosario chapel, San Martín is the grandest of the Tlayacapan chapels, with twin towers, a central espadaña bristling with merlons, and a complex front 
with multiple niches of varying size and shape and a variety of columns. 
All these architectural elements are interposed with passages of ornamental, carved stucco relief, formerly painted. Most of the decoration is in the form of foliated motifs, although some animals appear together with stylized, crowned, Imperial two-headed eagles above the niches.*
Unfortunately the towers especially suffered considerable damage during the quake, including large cracks and fallen arches, and remain in a precarious state.
*According to legend, when the plan for the Tlayacapan chapels was shown to the Emperor Charles V, he demanded that a special, chapel be erected on the western side, the grandest of all, dedicated to Martin of Tours and on which the Hapsburg Imperial insignia be prominently displayed. 
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color images courtesy of Robert Jackson and Niccolò Brooker

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