Guatemala, Part 4.

Antigua! A city in Guatemala with, like, 30 churches! Some are still functioning, some are only facades. Everything is protected because the whole city is a UNESCO site. Here are some of the façades. You can see there ain’t nuthin’ back there.

 

A popular motif in Antiguan churches is St. James on a horse leaping over the three giant mountains that surround the city.

Antigua has been around for almost five centuries and our guide called the prominent architecture style “Spanish seismic baroque.” As in, oh the earthquake broke this chunk of the building off, we will replace it with little to no concern to whether it matches or not. In addition, when the church insisted that the indigenous people build these new houses of worship, the people incorporated elements of their existing religion in there. For example, here is one of the most famous Antigua churches, the Iglesia de la Merced.

In my photos it looks like it’s a muddy mustard but in real life it’s a festive banana pudding color. Now, one might assume that those are grape vines on the pillars around the front door, right? Nope! Corn! It’s corn! One of the most sacred things to the Mayans!

And that four-pointed motif in the archway, that must represent the cross, right? Nope! Symbol for Mayan sun worship! Sneakin’ it all in there!

Moving on to other churches: Here is the Catedral of Antigua. Many of the hands of the outdoor sculptures are missing because of the earthquakes. I guess that’s the first part to break off.

If this is their approach to Baroque, I like it. Baroque as a design system can be a little overwhelming, especially the end of the period, known as Rococco. Here, have some examples:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rococo#/media/File:BasilikaOttobeurenHauptschiff02.JPG

https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5012/5399173556_01eeb03ca5_b.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/73/Amalienburg_Spiegelsaal-1.jpg/800px-Amalienburg_Spiegelsaal-1.jpg

http://www.macklowegallery.com/images/CMS/Glossary%20of%20Terms/Rococo.jpg

See what I mean? Lots of stuff on all the surfaces all the time. That’s why I prefer this atypical approach to Baroque. Enough stuff on some of the surfaces some of the time.

While staying in Antigua I went tot a walk down the street and came across the Iglesia de San Francisco El Grande. They have it lit beautifully at night.

Near the small side chapel door was a mosaic of a fish. I thought he looked friendly.

There was a cross sculpture in front. That’s not unusual in itself. What was unusual was the symbolism. Note the stop sign hand, the tunic, the gambling dice, and less easy to see are the ladder and blacksmithing instruments across the horizontal beam. Does anyone know why those specific things are there? If you do, let me know. I could not figure it out.

Other church-related things: The view out of the door of one of the churches.

The altar of one of the churches clearly done in Empire style, that’s Napoleon’s time (which was a rebirth of Greco-Roman style, errybody be stealin’ from errybody else):

This wall tableau of The Father, The Sun and The Holy Ghost. I loved that instead of a normal round halo, The Father has a triangle representing the all-seeing eye, the same one on our dollar bill. And please note Jesus’ halo which resembles a Mayan crown.

http://cropcircleconnector.com/images/stela1.JPG

We were there during a festival of some kind (Easter? Maybe Easter? Sure, let’s go with Easter) and the Guatemalans have a really cool way of decorating their church. They dye sawdust and using stencils they create beautiful temporary carpets on the floor.

This was a small one that SOMEONE SMUDGED UP THERE IN THE FRONT. I would be so angry if I had toiled on this carpet and someone let their dog or kid mess up my work. I wouldn’t kick a dog or a kid but I might kick the person responsible for that dog or kid.

In another church there was a far larger carpet surrounded by ripe fruit and vegetables. It smelled very, very good. Could have done without the angel lawn ornaments but it’s not my carpet or church.

Next entry: more Antigua.

One Response to “Guatemala, Part 4.”

  1. T Pugh says:

    Nice photos! The symbols on the cross are the Armas Christi. These are items involved in the crucifixion. They became power (even magical) symbols in Europe in the Middle Ages.

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