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.

In Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz:

Our Lady of Sorrows
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Joseph
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)
St. Peter the Apostle
Virgin and Child (1)
Virgin and Child (2)

Other santos not photographed

Palm Sunday Christ

Palm Sunday Christ:
The Christ figure is in excellent condition, with deterioration showing only in some absent gesso and visible linen where the carved neck meets the shaped-cloth body. The hands and feet are also carved and added to the body at sleeves and hem. Under the wig, there is long, carved hair. All the paint is in excellent condition.

The pattern of the robe is a 4-pointed feather and paisley design in gold on red and with a wide gold border. A white undergarment can be seen at the neckline. The cape is black-green and gold with small flowers and paisley edged in a deep border of gold.

The Christ figure fits perfectly on the ass, but the ass is of folk manufacture with little detailing. It has flat eyes and long, paddle-like ears. It is painted a glossy dark brown. The muzzle is of a lighter color. The white ribbon harness is tied to the Christ's left hand and the cross/scutum/God's eye is tied to the right wrist. Easter palms have been stuck through the weaving of the God's eye. Plastic home-made flowers decorate the harness and the God's eye.

Basis for Identification: Christ on ass, woven eye-of-God on the staff in the right hand.

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz.

Location: On the altar along the north wall of the nave, just past the narthex (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome, white ribbon harness decorated with plastic flowers. Eyes: glass. Hair: wig. The animal figure is solid.

Size: About 4 feet (120 cm.) from the animal's hoof to the head of the Christ figure.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan, Mitla, OcotlánTamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tlacolula, Yanhuitlán.

External Link:
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Palmesel

Next: On the same altar, a statue of St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr).

Introduction to Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz

Santos Home Page

Note: On this site, 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 walls of the nave on the north and south. (The nave is the long central section.) Actual orientations may differ.

The photo shown here is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You are free to share or remix it on two conditions: first, that you attribute it to the photographers, Claire and Richard Stracke, without implying any approval of your work on their part; second, that if you alter, transform, or build upon this photo, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.