Monday, June 26, 2023

Chiapas. Two equestrian statues

The focus in our second post on Chiapas is on two related equestrian statues of colonial origin in the city of San Cristóbal.

The first is a virile of Santiago Matamoros now located in the city museum of Los Altos, adjacent to the church of Santo Domingo.

The saint is seated on a horse whose front hooves are elevated—possibly originally part of a larger tableau. The helmeted figure of Santiago is in his usual militant pose with sword upraised. 

His costume as well as the saddle and saddle cloth are painted and richly finished in estofado style.

There is no definite date for the statue but the pose and the horse especially is fashioned in a folkloric style, which suggests the 17th or early 18th century.

The second figure, known as El Señor del Sótano, is sometimes mistaken for Santiago. He also brandishes a sword, but in fact represents St Martin, shown in the act of dividing his cloak with a naked beggar. The pose is more sophisticated than that of the Santiago statue: in the gestures of the saint, his headwear, the folds of his costume and even the turned head of the horse. 

 The decorative finish is also simpler, although the costuming is more realistic and brightly colored in reds and blues. Again no date is indicated although the ensemble suggest the later 18th century.

San Martín is located in a side chapel of the church of La Caridad, the former resting place of the Santiago figure.

text and graphic © 1993 & 2023 Richard D. Perry

photography courtesy of Niccolo Brooker

consult our illustrated travel guide to colonial Chiapas

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