Sunday, January 31, 2021

Oaxaca. San Matias Jalatlaco

Like the barrio of Marquesado, this attractive outlying artisans’ quarter of Oaxaca City was originally settled by Tlaxcalan troops who arrived with Cortés during the Conquest. An early chapel here, built by the Jesuits, was replaced in the 1700s by the present church of St. Matthew the Apostle—the facade is dated 1713, inscribed below the keystone on the arch above the main entry.
Set in a walled forecourt planted with tulip trees, the church has recently undergone thorough restoration. 
west doorway
Against rusticated walls cut from cream colored stone, or cantera amarilla, the main and side entries are both densely ornamented with geometric motifs—rectangles, diamonds, zigzags and rosettes. The belfry, newly painted in red, blue and ocher, provides a splash of color to complement the dazzling stonework.
north doorway
The interior has also been repainted in warm tones of red and cream. There are few colonial artifacts of interest remaining, notably an handsome painting of the Mexican Trinity, resplendent in gilded, star spangled robes.
A tall, 19th century pipe organ overlooks the nave from the choir loft, striking in its handsome blue case with decorative carved foliage. It has recently been restored to playing condition.
the pipe organ
The altarpiece at the east end houses a locally revered statue of the patron St Matthew, and on a recent visit, parishioners were carrying this image of the saint from the church on a visitation to honor a novena at a private local shrine.
Click here for excerpts from a Christmas concert at Jalatlaco courtesy of IOHIO

text © 2007 & 2021 Richard D. Perry
color images by the author

Monday, January 25, 2021

Oaxaca. Santa Maria Nduayaco

Place of the Burned Palm

Located on an unpaved road off Rte 125 south of Teposcolula, the rural church of Santa Maria Nduayaco appears little changed since colonial times. 
Reconstructed corner posas occupy the corners of the atrium. The church is raised on what may have been a former temple platform. Beyond its plain facade, recessed between surprisingly large towers, lies an unusual rustic interior. 
The narrow stone apse, which may have originally functioned as an open chapel, is buttressed by thick walls and faced by a painted archway with the date 1687—probably when the present church was completed.
Wooden columns and stone pillars, some with sculpted capitals, divide the nave into three aisles, all covered by low wooden ceilings with carved beam ends.
   While this arrangement has been subject to later reinforcement with cement beams, such interiors are rare in this part of Oaxaca, although it may be based on nearby San Juan Teposcolula.
At the ends of the side aisles, finely wrought but neglected gilded retablos, possibly also by the authors of the San Juan Teposcolula altarpieces, contribute to the ambience of a country church that time has left behind. (more pictures to come)

text © 2020 Richard D. Perry
color images from online sources. graphic © Robert Mullen

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Oaxaca. Cuilapan in 1966

From time to time we look at old photographs of colonial monuments from our archives.  In this post we show shots of the venerable Dominican priory of Santiago Cuilapan, taken on our first trip to Oaxaca in 1966.
   Although far from comprehensive, they do document the high points of the complex as it was then, essentially little changed from its appearance today over fifty years later.
View of the priory complex from the west

The arcaded roofless "basilica" or former open chapel

The front of the unfinished church and adjacent porteria & convento entry

The church entry and choir vault supports

Details of the cloister arcades
Painted corner niche in the cloister.

For all our other posts on Oaxaca, type "oaxaca" in our search space

text © 2020 Richard D. Perry
images © 1966 & 2020 by the author

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Oaxaca. Santa Caterina Lachatao

Located in a rugged area dotted with gold and silver mine workings—some of which are still active—this mountain village lies in the Sierra Juarez, or Sierra Norte de Oaxaca.
Beneath a rounded, scalloped pediment, the honey-colored facade of the church is a mosaic of cut stone: circles, zigzags, coffers, vases, shells, rosettes and expressive statuary. 

John the Evangelist (N Brooker)
St Sebastian Martyr (N Brooker)
St Joseph (N Brooker)
God the Father (N Brooker)
St. Catherine, the patron saint, stands over the doorway; pensive saints and angels occupy the moorish side niches, and a robust Padre Eterno looks out from the lobed gable. 
The nave (N Brooker)
The spacious graystone interior is lined by gilded altarpieces in variable condition. The late baroque Churrigueresque main retablo, atypical for Oaxaca, is the best preserved, its complex estípite pilasters alive with caryatids and cherubs.

With one exception, the side altars are less well preserved, their fine sculptural ornament in need of restoration.

The lateral retablo as restored (N. Brooker)

Numerous carved and painted figures, often battered but of fine workmanship, stand in the church; the high quality of decorative carving and figure sculpture extends to the ornate pulpit.
text © 2007 & 2020 Richard D. Perry
color images by Felipe Falcon except where noted.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Santos Reyes Acozac: the atrium cross

Besides the church and its gilded altarpieces, which we described in our previous post, another monument of interest at Acozac is the old carved stone cross mounted in the atrium.
Simply sculpted in segmented fashion, the cross is densely carved with Passion symbols on the front, notably the crowned head of Christ at the crossing and variety of Instruments of the Passion down the shaft to include a cockerel atop the column, a corn plant and a ladder at the base.
The cross is capped by the customary bescrolled INRI plaque.
The reverse side is plain apart from the lance and hyssop carved on the base.
Although undated, the cross may originate in colonial times.
text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
color images © Niccolo Brooker

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Mexico. Santos Reyes Acozac

As we do each year at this time, we welcome the new year with a post related to Epiphany.  For 2021 we visit the church of Santos Reyes Acozac (Yellow Water) in the northern reaches of Mexico State close to the Hidalgo border.

Following a devastating fire in 1700, the church was rebuilt much as we see it today,  although it was refurbished as recently as the 1980s.  Santos Reyes Acozac presents a neatly painted, geometric facade. The tower in particular features attractive layered pilasters and half columns.

The spacious interior is spanned by dark vaults cut from black volcanic tezontle stone and braced by interior buttresses, and lit up by the gilded main altarpiece that fills the apse. 

Fashioned in ornate late baroque style, soaring estipite columns frame expansive niches that house a variety of statuary.  

The oval center niche showcases a tableau of the Adoration of the Three Kings that combines reliefs of the principals in the foreground against a painted backdrop with other figures. 

Sumptuously robed, elongated statues include saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Virgin Mary, flanking the tableau, while those on the upper level include St Joseph.

Every year at this time, the images of the Three Kings are carried in  procession to neighboring communities.

See our previous page on the church of Guadalupe in Acozac.

text ©2021 Richard D. Perry

color images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and ELTB.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Mexican Crosses archive

Over the years we have have posted numerous reports on Mexican crosses, primarily carved stone crosses dating from the colonial era and found in regions across Mexico.
This is a list of these posts with links to the original pages:

Aculco (Mexico City/State)
Actopan (Hidalgo)
Actopan. La Magdalena (Hidalgo)
Actopan. San Jerónimo (Hidalgo)
Ajusco (Mexico City)
Alfajayucan (Hidalgo)
Anaya (Hidalgo)
Angahuan (Michoacan)
Atlan (Hidalgo)
Atoyac (Mexico City)
Axotla (Mexico City)
Bucareli (Querétaro)
Cajititlan (Jalisco)
Capacho (Michoacan)
Charapan (Michoacan)
Chavez Morado (Guanajuato)
Chimalixtac (Mexico City)
Cholula (Puebla)
Ciudad Hidalgo (Michoacan)
Corupo (Michoacan)
Coyoacán (Mexico City)
Cuitzeo (Michoacan)
El Cardonal (Hidalgo)
El Sauz (Hidalgo)
Huactzingo (Tlaxcala)
Huandacareo (Michoacan)
Huango (Michoacan)
Huaniqueo (Michoacan)
Huantepec (Mexico City/State)
Huaquechula (Puebla)
Huichapan (Hidalgo)
Huipulco (Mexico City/State)
Jaltepec (Hidalgo)
Mapethe ( Hidalgo)
Mixcoac (Mexico City)
Pino Suarez (Hidalgo)
Puebla City (Puebla)
San Felipe de Los Alzate (Michoacan)
San Pedro Martir (Mexico City)
Nativitas Zacapa (Mexico City)
Tarecuato (Michoacan)
Tecajique (Hidalgo)
Tecali (Puebla)
Temimilcingo (Morelos)
Teotihuacan (mexico)
Tepetomatitlan (Tlaxcala)
Tepeapulco (Hidalgo)
Tepoztlan (Morelos)
Tezontepec (Hidalgo)
Tlahuelilpa (Hidalgo)
Tlalnepantla (Mexico City)
Tlaltenango (Morelos)
Tlaxcala (Tlaxcala)
Tlaxcala Santa Cruz (Tlaxcala)
Uruapan (Michoacan)
Zipiaco (Michoacan)
Zirosto (Michoacan)

© 2018 Richard D. Perry