Retable

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THE RETABLES OF THE PARISH

The thousands of retables and altarpieces which we can see inside the garish's sacristy show the faith and devotion of the people towards Panchito. They are pieces of popular art that reflect mexican people heart and its deepest cultural roots. Retables, pictorial representations of iconographic images of the Catholic religion, on panels of wood, were introduced to the colony of New Spain by Spanish missionaries from different religious orders during the conquest. During this period, so traumatic for the indigenous inhabitants of old Mexico, the Catholic Church tried to eradicate the ancient beliefs and impose the "one true faith". From this clash of two antagonistic visions of the world, there arose an authentic mestizo ideology. Little by little the old idols of the home altars gave way to retables with Catholic images, and the characteristic of the prehispanic gods were projected onto them. The counterpart of the retable, or rather another of its uses, is the exvoto or votive offering (from the Latin: ex voto), an object offered to a divinity in gratitude for a favor received. It is thought that the oldest ex-voto made in New Spain is a golg scorpion comissioned by Hernan Cortes, who dedicated it to the Virgin of Guadalupe of Extremadura for saving his life after he was stung by a scorpion. Although there is not reliable proof confirming the veracity of this event, we can talk of a votive tradition in Mexico existing from the sixteenth century. Although a votive offering can be any object (for example, plaits, letters, figurines Known as "little miracles"), retables are a unique artistic expression. Originally they were drawn on a wood, copper or cloth surface. From the nineteenth century, tin plate was introduced into the Americas. This material is durable and cheap, which makes these objects of popular art accesible to the poorer classes. While the Spanish ex-votos use only a pictorial representation to give thanks for a specific favor, in Mexico this is accompanied by a brief, simple, anecdotal legend at the foot of the image, describing the miracle granted. The ex-votos were entrusted to artisans in small regional workshops. These artisans were for the most part anonimous artists with little or no technical knowledge or learning. In the sanctuaries of the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City, Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos (in Jalisco), San Francisco de Asís (Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí), Santo Niño de Antocha (Fresnillo, Zacatecas) and the Virgin of Dolores de Soriano (Colón, Querétaro), among others, one can appreciate this very interesting aspect of the history of Mexican art. Some people regaining health, some others for a successful surgery, or having increased their wealth, for receiving proteccion and help from the Panchito, witness their thankfulness with these offerings. They are all clear indication of the fondness towards this saint who "arrived" from across the seas to be the protector and benefactor of Real de Catorce. His name got very famous in this zone of northern Mexico from generation to generation due to the miracles granted to his people and so increasing the number of faithful pilgrims.

Click to visit the retables gallery Retables gallery

 

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