Altars Oaxaca #1

These are 8 altars from the eight regions of Oaxaca as displayed in the Biblioteca.  Lighting and positioning for some was better than others. None of my photos truly do them justice.



Santiago Juxtlahuacaaltar03







The Catholic Conquistadores were a lot like Trump, wanting to obliterate everything that came before them. They often sat their churches right on top of the most significant site of the local people.  Mitla is no exception.  It was built By the Zapotecs, and was their most important religious site.  It was later occupied by the Mixtecs, but Zapotecs still continue to populate the area.  The Catholics built the church atop the main part of the ruin to “keep the devil from escaping.”


The site is noted for its intricate cut stone friezes, which are held together without mortar.  Nothing like this exists elsewhere in the Americas.mitla02mitla03mitla04

An example of some of the remnants of the codices which filled all of the doorways in the main area.  They are mostly gone, destroyed by weather and tourists.mitla05mitla06mitla07mitla08mitla09

I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get into the tombs.  I have no idea where everything ransacked from them went.mitla10mitla11

There is a lot of great street art in Mitla.  I had the taxi driver stop a couple of times to take these.mitla12mitla13


I have another street art post coming for you, but I think I should do a little writing. I’ve been remiss for a few days.  I’m not sure where this will go. I’m just going to riff on the image as usual, and try to tie it up in a nice metaphorical bow.

Odd juxtapositions make us think, make us notice things about the things juxtaposed that are only evident because of the contrast between them. Here we have the centuries old church in bad repair juxtaposed against the shiny plastic merry go round in the playground. We have the old and the new.  We have the cheap plastic on a field of concrete in front of a building full of gold collected over centuries of oppression.  Still, the church is probably providing a nicer place to play than most of the kids whose parents attend services have.  My assumptions and judgement of the contrast are based on another juxtaposition, my relative wealth compared to many of the parishioners.

People beg on the street here who live on a couple of dollars a day.  Back home in Tucson, people drive cars worth twice what I earn in a year.  They in turn look at the next tier of wealth and feel lesser. I can’t afford to retire in the US with what I will get from Social Security, but that amount will make me better off than most people here. Many Mexicans make a lot more than I do, but they are still relegated to a society whose infrastructure is crumbling, poorly maintained by a corrupt government. Nobody here has potable water coming from their tap.

But, and this is important, it only matters if you place value on the contrast between the juxtaposed elements.  Above, I made comments on colonialism, religion, and poverty based on the juxtaposition in the photo.  All that really matters, though, is that kids laugh and play happily on those plastic animals, while their parents find spiritual healing inside the church.

One could make similar judgements about the wealth difference between me and the beggar in the street or between a middle class Mexican and Jeff Bezos, but what matters more is whether we smile at one another and treat each other with kindness and respect.

We are all on the same merry go round, after all.