Friday, August 17, 2018

Oaxaca. Santo Domingo Tomaltepec

Before we go up to explore the more remote churches in the Sierras, we look at one more church of interest in the Tlacolula valley—that at Santo Domingo Tomaltepec. 
Although built in classic "earthquake baroque" Oaxacan style, the sheer tower bases and broad, aggressively vertical pilasters in the center facade make this 18th century church front seem less than earthbound. 
The eye is drawn upwards to the baroque gable atop the facade, neatly outlined in brown, where colorful ceramic plates are embedded in the matching towers and cupolas. A diminutive statue of St. Dominic, the patron saint of the church, stands in the crowning niche.


Beyond the rather cramped sanctuary arch—part of the 16th century apse—gleams the handsome main altarpiece. Crafted in classic Oaxacan baroque style, this later colonial altarpiece is framed by paired spiral columns and elaborate cornices dripping with spindles.
   Dramatic baroque paintings, still in excellent condition, fill the outer compartments, while statues of St. Dominic and a smaller, probably older Virgin Mary occupy the center niches.

A colorful frieze, or dado, runs along the nave on either side, providing a backdrop to several fine colonial statues and a pair of late 18th century side retablos, also of high quality.

An exquisite smaller retablo, dedicated to La Purísima, is of exceptional artistry. Its main focus is a striking image of the Virgin, set against a stylized landscape surrounded by her attributes. The sinuous folds of her star-spangled gown, outlined by gilded borders, are especially striking.

text © 2018 Richard D. Perry

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