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Lucifer Enchained

Religious Art in San Juan Analco

an article by Richard D. Perry

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Archangel Michael atop a chained Lucifer
see High Resolution Version
The mountain village of San Juan Analco perches on a knoll in the heart of the scenic Sierra Juarez de Oaxaca east of the city of Oaxaca. Stubby twin towers flank the simple church front, which is outlined in dark reds and mustard hues. The long nave is covered by a finely crafted, three-sided wooden roof, tied by decorative mudéjar crossbeams painted with colorful floral decoration.

Unadorned adobe walls along the nave provide a perfect backdrop for a sequence of gilded baroque altarpieces, many of which frame exceptional examples of painted wooden statuary, of which the locals are very protective.

One small retablo especially, ornately framed with frilly skirted archangels, houses a superb polychrome relief of the Archangel Michael. Clothed in flying draperies decorated with fine estofado work and holding a serpentine sword, the youthful saint stands in triumph atop the chained Lucifer whose many heads snarl in agony beneath his feet.

San Juan Analco church facade

San Juan Analco church nave

Lucifer detail

Painted beam at Analco church

text ©2011 by Richard D. Perry. except where noted. All rights reserved.
Photographs ©Felipe Falcón. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission from www.colonial-mexico.com

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