9866 - Continuity and Cohersion: The Question of Agency in the "Found Cross" Myths at Esquipulas and Chalma

In Chalma, which lies between Mexico City and Cuernavaca, a Nahua-speaking group revered a statue of a crucified Christ, which purportedly appeared in a cave, taking the place of the “dark lord of caves,” Oxtoteotl. In Esquipulas, Guatemala, the post-conquest “Cristo Negro” or Black Christ transformed a Chorti Maya pilgrimage site of healing shrines and caves.

Both Spanish precedents and prehispanic cosmology had a strong influence on the creation and development of these Christ-centered images and cults, which speak to the hybridity of Christian religious art in the New World.

This paper will explore the creation of both objects, their "discovery" in local caves, and their subsequent rise to prominence. The dialectic of power between the friars who commissioned the works and the natives who received them will be examined.

Author: Sifford, Elena FitzPatrick (City University of New York, Ud States of Am / USA)


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