Santos in Oaxaca's Ancient Churches
A study of santos in 16th-century and other churches in Oaxaca, Mexico
By Claire and Richard Stracke
Funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Lady of Mount Carmel
| Our Lady of Mount Carmel:
This Carmen is different from the traditional and the statue may originally have represented a different saint. The garments are not brown but white brocade trimmed in gold; yet the bib, reaching to mid-calf, marks them as unquestionably the Carmen garments. Only the virgin has a scapular; traditionally both figures have one. Finally, the fine features and sheen of the face make the statue seem older than other Carmens.
Local Name: La Virgen del Carmen, more formally Nuestra Señora de Monte Carmelo.
Basis for Identification: Scapular, bib, crown, holding child who wears a crown.
Site: Basilica of Santiago Cuilapan.
Location: In a glass case on a wooden altar along the north wall of nave (see note).
Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Hair: bald beneath wig. Eyes: glass. Closed mouth.
Size: About 5 feet (150 cm.)
In the same case
kneeling at the virgin's feet is a
small statue of a full-bearded male dressed in polyester
garments. The headpiece is a round coil such as is
depicted in modern Biblical illustrations. It wears a
green, collared robe and a long gold wrap in apparent
imitation of the robe and mantle of the older, larger
statue standing to the right of the case that we
provisionally identify as Saint Joseph.
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Mitla1, Mitla2, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Zimatlán.
the same wooden altar, a statue of an
unidentified saint, possibly St. Joseph.
references to the cardinal directions always assume
that the main altar is at the east end of the church,
the narthex or entry area at the west end, and the two
of the nave on the
north and south. (The
nave is the long central section.)
Actual orientations may differ.
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