Monday, August 13, 2018

Oaxaca: San Miguel del Valle

Above Santo Domingo in the Tlacolula valley is San Miguel del Valle, the third of these Zapotec churchesPainted a dazzling white with red domes, this imposing hilltop church overlooks its broad atrium and commands a sweeping panorama of the Tlacolula valley below. 
The grand entry stands at the head of a steep pyramidal stairway, its angled doorway flanked by giant Tuscan tritostyle columns with pearl and starburst carvings. Narrow red borders outline every facade detail. 

Twin domed towers studded with ceramic plates—some apparently of antique majolica—sandwich the rather fussy baroque gable. 

Gleaming beyond the dull, gray concrete vaulting of the nave, and framed by a gaily painted apsidal arch, the gilded main retablo is the focus of interest. 
Within its boldly curved, scalloped border, highly ornate niche-pilasters are carved with figures of saints and angels in rich estofado costumes. Archangels with rippling petticoats adorn the upper estípites.
Statues fill the three tiers of niches. These include an animated St. Michael in the center vitrine and the Virgin as Queen of Heaven in the swagged top tier—altogether a beautiful work of art, and in excellent condition.
Among the other colonial art works of special note in San Miguel, a striking painting of the Mexican Holy Trinity stands out. Each identical  figure is crowned with a gilded, triangular nimbus and clothed in swirling, gilt edged robes.
There are also several old cristos and a colorful red, black and gold wooden pulpit. Carved rosettes and Dominican fleur-de-lis crosses adorn the stone font in the baptistry—probably the oldest artifact in the church.
       Tlacolula Valley:  Tlacolula; Santa Ana del Valle; Santo Domingo del Valle;
text © 2018 Richard D. Perry
color images by the author and courtesy of Felipe Falcón.  All rights reserved

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