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Virgin

This statue of the Virgin is unusual for its combination of Spanish, Latin American, and Asian artistic traditions. The cosmopolitan society of the Vice Royalty of New Spain, which included present-day Guatemala, was shaped not only by cross-cultural native and Spanish influences, but by its location at the intersection of a trade route between Europe and Asia. This statue is in the form of a Madonna of the ampona (broad) form, a cult figure made to be dressed with actual clothing. The dressing of deity figures was a common precontact native practice that the Catholic Church at first tried to discourage, but by the seventeenth century had come to accept, as native Christians appropriated and transformed Catholic forms. Although Virgins were generally dressed with real garments and usually had wood heads and hands, this figure's robe is made of cloth stiffened with gesso and then painted, and the face and hands are ivory. These ivory parts may have been made in the Philippines and imported into the Americas, reflecting New Spain's vital role in the China-Spain trade route.

Catalogue Description:
The figure is of lacquered wood except for the hands and face which are ivory. The figure, which stands on a gilded wooden base, wears a flowing robe that flares greatly and she is adorned with a silver crown.


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