Monday, February 11, 2019

Hidden Gems: Twelve at Oxtoyucan

From time to time we take a look at modest rural Mexican churches with colonial antecedents that are overlooked by most students of viceregal art and architecture, but that often possess features of artistic interest.  We like to call them Hidden Gems.
Oxtoyucan (Place of Caves) was one of the original four barrios of Zempoala, in Hidalgo, and the modest church of San Antonio was founded as a visita of the Franciscan monastery there.
© WW
A substantial raised atrium with high, crenelated walls surrounds the church, which largely dates from the latter 1500s.
Although repeated whitewashing has obscured some details, the expansive west entry is quite elegantly framed. The Franciscan knotted cord encloses a variety of relief rosettes that alternate up the jambs and around the arch of the doorway.
Detail of the jamb
What is of special interest, regardless of the variant, is that these reliefs feature 12 petals and/or 12 dots. Clearly this is intentional, and may well have some significance—possibly a reference to Aztec calendrics? 
Detail of the alfiz
In addition, eight point rosettes alternate in fours with dots along the lofty alfiz that rises beside the jambs and above the doorway—also framed by the cordon and punctuated by relief Calvary crosses at the ends and corners. 
text © 2018 Richard D. Perry
color images by Niccolò Brooker except where noted

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