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The Art of the Image Maker
in New Mexico
Text and images from The Wood Carvers of Córdova, New Mexico
by Charles L. Briggs
& published by
The University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque.

New Mexico's Route 76 winds its way from the Rio Grande Valley toward Taos, and it provides thousands of tourists each year with an ephemeral view of Hispano village culture. The community of Córdova is separated from the main road by a short spur, which plunges into the Quemado Valley about four miles east-northeast of Chimayó. Even before one reaches the turnoff, however, a lone hand-painted sign marks Córdova as a center of the regional wood-carving industry.


Upon arrival in the valley, the visitor is greeted by further advertisements, each seeking to define the stranger's presence in terms of an economic interaction between carver and patron. The success of this mode of intercourse attests to the ability of the wood-carving enterprise to bridge the values and beliefs of culturally distinct individuals. The factors that have contributed to such an arrangement are many, and the beauty of their symmetry is enhanced by the sharp contrasts between the motivations carried into the workshop by each group.

The elucidation of the precedents to and products of the contemporary wood-carving trade will serve as a centripetal force throughout this book. Córdova provides the stage for exploring the processes involved in the evolution of the local wood-carving industry, while the actors are recruited from two distinct sides. On one side are found the nineteenth-century saint carvers of the community, along with their contemporary successors. Playing opposite this group are a number of artists and writers, including such figures as Frank Applegate and Mary Austin. Their role has been assumed during the last thirty years by a multiplicity of tourists and other visitors who continue to follow their predecessors' footsteps into Córdova. Images of the saints and other carved figures constitute the props, and they are visually represented in these pages. The script is largely provided by the set of symbols and meanings that each ocalities Men- group has brought to the scene, but serendipity plays a major role in its dénouement.

The contemporary leading man on the Cordovan side of this drama is George López. Mr. López is well known in his community, any native resident can tell you where he lives, and his contemporaries (he is seventy-eight) know early everything about him. The unusual thing about López is, however, that his reputation extends far beyond the confines of northern New Mexico and the cognizance of his own ethnic group. Quite simply, he is famous. George López's fame is based on publicity and long-standing relationships with visitors to his carving workshop. This situation, as any Córdovan will tell you, is symptomatic of increasing contact between Hispano villagers and the society beyond, which is dominated by Anglo-Americans.

As I mentioned above, this interaction has not been inconsequential for the community at large. There are at present about thirty-five full- and part-time wood carvers in Córdova, and there are five shops where carvings are sold. Beyond the immediate economic ramifications, the social effects of the industry have been many. Through the visits of strangers, Córdova has evolved a special relationship with the outside world. Just as visitors often define Córdova in terms of the wood carvings it produces, Córdovans have at times utilized contacts formed in this manner to obtain information about and access to the superordinate institutions that greatly influence their lives.

Still, George López is not responsible for initiating the present state of affairs. His father, José Dolores, was a creative genius. Steeped in the traditional Hispano cultural system, including its image-making vocation, he evolved a highly individual interpretation of the religious representations of his own society. The peculiarity of his vision was also shaped by the friendship and advice of a number of Santa Fe artists and writers. Being intimately acquainted with the aesthetic preferences of Anglo-American culture, they were in a particularly advantageous position to mesh Jose' Dolores' artistic inclinations with the tastes of the nearby market. The annual reenactment of the passion of Christ by the local confraternity of Our Father Jesus the Nazarene provided a convenient opportunity for the initial meeting of these two groups of actors, thus setting the stage for the encouragement of a nascent handicraft industry.

Beyond a burning interest in the public rituals of the confraternity, the region's Anglo-American intelligentsia was fascinated with viewing and above all possessing the traditional polychromed images of the saints. Borrowing a bit of an alien tongue, they generally referred to these as santos. To their collectors, these objects held a fascination that did not emanate solely from their status as "primitives" or "antiques" but appears to have been enhanced by the animism that was supposedly associated with their veneration. Although José Dolores López's unpainted sculptures did not closely resemble the polychromed traditional images, the contiguity of the two artistic traditions certainly contributed to their popularity among Anglo-Americans.

It is becoming clear that both cultural groups frequently acted on the basis of dissimilar motives. In the case of the Anglo-American art lovers who "discovered" José Dolores, his works provided a means of obtaining images that drew upon the earlier tradition but was less constrained by its artistic conventions. The individuality of López's pieces drew them much closer to the canons of modern Western art than were the primarily anonymous works of his ancestors. For the Hispanos, however, the memory of the traditional image makers provided a basis for supplying new patrons and for satisfying a growing need for cash income. Indeed, such carvers as George López tell their customers that their work is in "the line of the old santeros (image makers)."

The fascination for both groups exerted by polychromed wooden images of the saints renders the images of central importance to the present study. For this reason, it might be wise to preface later discussion of specific carvers with a more general discussion of this religious art form and its artisans.

With regard to definitions, the use of the terms santos and santeros has become clouded by a troublesome ambiguity. Spanish usage in general reserves santo for holy personages (including the saints as well as the various advocations of Christ and the Virgin) and for blessed objects that represent or are otherwise associated with them. The term santero refers to a wide range of persons who care for a church or chapel and its furnishings or who make, repair, or repaint images. On the other hand, Santo has become an "arty byword" 1
in the Southwest for polychromed folk images, especially for those produced in New Mexico. The use of the term santero seems to have become similarly restricted to just those persons who produce these images. In order to avoid the introduction of unnecessarily ambiguous and preconceived notions, I eschew the terms santo and santero in favor of the less fashionable "image" and "image carver."

As I have said, the term santos brings to the minds of most Southwesterners the brightly painted religious statues made in New Mexico in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Nevertheless, images are used by Catholics throughout the world, and their popular production is quite widespread. Immigrants to Spain's colonies and Christianized natives, for example, frequently lacked an adequate supply of religious goods due to the difficulties involved in importation. Local industries arose in response to these needs, and although they have generally been displaced in these areas by the importation of mass-produced chromolithographs and lithographs during the last hundred years, such countries as Mexico still harbor folk image makers (cf. Giffords 1974; 1977)

The Philippines and Puerto Rico provide cases parallel to that of New Mexico. The native inhabitants of each of these areas were conquered by the Spanish, and the regions later fell into American hands. Images for both church and home were produced by Filipinos from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. The artists, who remain primarily anonymous, worked in several types of wood and in ivory. Although the more formal Spanish and Philippine images served as prototypes, "vaguely oriental" techniques as well as canons of dress and appearance were highly influential (Zóbel de Ayala 1963:27). Three wooden Filipino images are illustrated in Plate 2.

The Puerto Rican production of images arose somewhat later, having become highly visible only after 1800 (Lange 1975:714). The artists either were self-taught or learned the trade from family or community members (1975:777). Images were carved from a number of types of wood, usually coated with gesso, and polychromed with oil, enamel, and other paints, creating an effect not entirely unlike that of traditional New Mexican statues. The comparison with the New Mexican devotion to images is strengthened by the shortage of priests in rural Puerto Rico and by the set of private devotions that surrounded the image makers' products (1975:766-73). Just as in New Mexico, the process of localization, the reinterpretation of local iconography according to local cultural canons, played a major role in the representation of holy personages. The Virgin of Hormigueros pictured in Plate 3 provides an apt example. The figure arose, according to Lange (1975: 277-92), through Puerto Rican reinterpretations of the legendary and iconographic attributes of Our Lady of Monserrat, the patroness of Catalonia. The local production of images in Puerto Rico has diminished greatly in the last forty years (1975:801-804)

When we turn to the production of Catholic images in New Mexico, three periods emerge from more than two centuries of the traditional era (i.e., pre-1900). The chronology of the image-carving art is closely related to that of Spanish colonization, however, and a rough sketch of the Spanish exploration and colonization of the province should be borne in mind. Cabeza de Vaca, who traversed the area in the 1530s, brought the viceroy tales of fabulous wealth in the "Seven Cities of Cibola" in the northern frontier country. Fray Marcos de Niza returned with a small party in 1539, and although it was unsuccessful, this expedition also spread the rumor of riches, prompting the governor of Nueva Galicia, Francisco Vasques de Coronado, to lead a substantial party northward in 1540. He soon learned that abundant wealth was not to be found in the region and returned to Mexico after two years of hardship and warfare. His journey nevertheless resulted in the exploration of vast stretches of this land.

The first attempt at colonizing the province was made in 1598 by Juan de Ontilde;ate, who of course operated under Spanish auspices. Images do not, however, appear to have been produced locally in New Mexico between this date and the Pueblo (Indian) Revolution of 1680 in which the Spaniards were expelled.2 As trade with the Americans was outlawed under Spanish rule, all images were brought up by caravan during the colonial period (1598-1821). Both lay and clergy brought numerous articles of devotion with them, but these were never sufficient to satisfy Spanish needs, let alone to furnish newly founded mission chapels (Espinosa 1960 [1967]: 12). In short, the early colonial period was characterized by a conspicuous shortage of Catholic religious images.

Soon after Don Diego de Vargas regained the province for Spain in 1692, however, a number of artists who were working in New Mexico executed images on tanned buffalo, elk, and deer hides (Boyd 1974:118). Ecclesiastical disapproval began as early as the visitation of Don de Guevara in 1817-1820, and the production of painted tanned hides ended in New Mexico some 125 years after it had begun.3 Two facts about this artistic phase are of importance.

First, although many of their materials were locally derived, extant examples demonstrate that none of the artists lacked at least rudimentary artistic training. Some authors have stated that these early artists were skilled in techniques for conveying perspective and the illusion of a third dimension on two-dimensional surfaces.4 Second, they did not confine their efforts to the representation of the attributes of holy persons; their products were narrative and didactic. We presume this artistic goal to be related to the fact that the images served primarily in the conversion of the Indian "heathen" rather than in the devotion of the Spanish colonists (Boyd 1946:9-12). The images thus provided an important means for publicly articulating the relationship between Pueblo and Hispano societies.

The second period of the santero art took place during a brief interval in the eighteenth century. The work of two named artists has been identified: Fray Andre's Garcia was a Franciscan born in la Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico; Captain Bernardo Miera y Pacheco was born near Burgos, Spain. Miera y Pacheco exhibited great versatility in New Mexico as a war captain and cartographer as well as in selling images to Indian converts for use in their chapels. The artists of this period used oil paints brought up from Mexico, and their intent was to reproduce the stylistic characteristics of the eighteenth-century Mexican Rococo. Whether or not their attempt was successful, they were well aware of its artistic conventions (Boyd 1974:96-102). Surviving works from this period consist of images carved in the round and paintings on wooden panels and on canvas (see Color Plate 1).5

The final phase of the traditional image-carving art in New Mexico is frequently referred to as its golden age. Sometime after the middle of the eighteenth century a group of primarily native-born artists utilized both imported and native materials in an effort to fill the region's need for sacred images. Lacking academic training, many of these earlier artists began their work by copying from Mexican and European prototypes. Their lack of acquaintance with formal canons of perspective, anatomy, and architectural detail combined with local aesthetic preferences in the evolution of a distinctive style (see Boyd 1946:12, 29, 33).

Images were classified into two general types. The terms bulto or santo de bulto, which connoted solidity (Espinosa 1960 [19671:52), referred to figures in the round of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints (see Color Plate 2). During this period such pieces were carved from cottonwood, aspen, or pine, given a base coat of gesso and at times modeled with cloth soaked in gesso, and painted with water soluble pigments mainly derived from vegetal and mineral sources. Retablos, on the other hand, were originally hand-adzed and later milled panels that were similarly painted (see Color Plate 2). One particularly striking characteristic of their departure from Renaissance canons is a lack of the illusion of three-dimensionality (Steele 1974:7). The larger reredos or altar screens were also referred to as retablos (Espinosa 1960 [1967]:5l). A rarer form intermediate between bultos and retablos and dating to the late eighteenth century was made by covering the surface of a board with gesso, carving out a design in bas-relief, and painting the surface (Boyd 1974:144-54; Mills [1967]:54)

Gettens' and Turner's (1951) analysis of the pigments revealed that the image makers' palette consisted primarily of imported vermillion and cochineal for red; yellow earth or ochre and occasionally vegetal yellow; a limited green spectrum derived from vegetal sources or mixed from other colors; imported indigo and Prussian blues; carbonaceous and iron ore browns; and strictly carbonaceous blacks. Tones and flesh areas were formed by allowing the gesso background (native gypsum in a base of homemade glue) to stand uncovered or by using imported white lead pigment. Panels were frequently sealed with a resinous outer layer.

The more specialized literature to date has emphasized stylistic and biographical evidence on individual artists and the attributes they utilized in portraying their subjects. In this regard it has been estimated that the polychromed images of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century New Mexico were fashioned by as few as a dozen individuals, excluding inferior examples, and that these persons derived most of their livelihood from their work (Boyd 1946:7).

Ethnographic characterization of the traditional image makers constitutes an arduous task for two reasons. First, surprisingly little is known about the actual working methods of these artists and of their relationship with their patrons. The data in hand are largely derived from scattered documentary evidence, published accounts of Hispano folklore and folklife, and from inquiries made of the image makers' descendants by writers and collectors in this century. Second, common generalizations concerning the homogeneity of traditional Hispano villages are contradicted by the wide range of differences exhibited between the various localities, and this variation is also apparent in the lives of the artists.

A case in point is provided by two roughly contemporary image makers, José Aragón and José Rafael Aragón. Jose' Aragón was a Spaniard who is known to have lived in New Mexico and to have been producing images in the 1820s (Boyd 1974:366-74). In keeping with what one would presume to have been José Aragón's educational advantage, his vocabulary and calligraphy were much more sophisticated than those of most other New Mexican image makers. José Rafael Aragón lived in Córdova, New Mexico, where he left a number of descendants (see Color Plate 2). He was apparently not related to José Aragón. Similarly, Juan Miguel Herrera and José Gonzalez were two of the best artists in the latter half of the nineteenth century, but the former was a native New Mexican from Canjilón (Espinosa 1954:187) and the latter, who spent about ten years at las Trampas, was a native Sonoran of the traditional itinerant school of image makers (Boyd 1974:59, 343-44).

Only the general nature of the production and marketing of images is known at this time. All available information indicates that individuals, groups, and the church itself placed orders with image makers. The fragile images may have been constructed in the patron's home rather than hauled from the artist's residence, although recent Mexican image carvers are known to have carried their inventory from hamlet to hamlet (Giffords 1977), and this practice may have been common in New Mexico as well. To quote one example, Juan Ram6n Velasquez is said to have been given sufficient orders during the 1880s to warrant an annual three-to six-month trip, on which Velasquez took his family (Boyd 1954a: l90-9l). Payment frequently consisted of crops and livestock, although hard cash was not unknown (Boyd l974:384-85). In the case of works commissioned by the church, inventories and other records indicate that images were produced both gratis, as acts of devotion, and for direct payment (cf. Boyd 1974:329, 384-85). Image makers were often commissioned by others to provide votive offerings for churches and chapels, and large pieces such as altar screens frequently bore inscriptions listing the name of the donor and the date (1974:167). The belief that it was blasphemous to place the artist's name prominently on sacred images contributed to the general anonymity of the image carvers' art (1974:329). Nevertheless, the wide distribution of the works of the more popular artists indicates that such persons were itinerant specialists.

Although the production of religious images in the region declined toward the end of the last century, these objects continued to be venerated by Hispano Catholics throughout New Mexico. Oral history and ethnographic accounts enable us to discern five levels in the use of religious images in worship.

First, individual households traditionally maintained a space for the display and veneration of images (see Plate 4). Both bultos and retablos were commonly housed there, and candles, rosaries, and other articles usually complemented the images. Espinosa (1960 [19671:83-84) noted that the saint might be the patron of the head of the household or simply a past benefactor, but it was to this personage that the family frequently turned in times of need.

Second, more wealthy Hispanos often owned private chapels, and the provision of these structures was sometimes quite elaborate (see Plate 5). This level of image utilization is distinct from the preceding one due to the fact that these private chapels often served extrafamilial ends: masses could be read and processions initiated there. Oral sources maintain that Córdova once boasted a private chapel in a house in the central plaza or town square. These structures were especially important in areas of highly dispersed settlement, where public churches or chapels were rare. In such cases families from neighboring ranches would come to masses and individuals often made visits in fulfillment of a vow (Cabeza de Baca 1954:53-54; Jaramillo 1941:69). Ecclesiastical records clearly distinguish these private chapels from their public counterparts (Boyd 1974:34).6

Use of communally-owned images is entailed by the next three levels. In the third, religious and other associations frequently possessed a number of sacred representations. The brothers of the lay religious confraternities are noteworthy in this regard, but a number of other organizations were structurally quite similar and also have played significant roles in New Mexican history (cf. Córdova 1973:56). The role of images at this level of organization was not limited to voluntary associations; such entities as businesses sometimes also featured an image of their patron saint (Espinosa 1960 [1967]: 83).

The last two levels were defined by cultural geography. Hispano communities like Córdova frequently consisted of more than one central plaza or (formerly) enclosed grouping of houses. Many of these settlements included a number of named plazas, and these were often associated with additional patron saints. Finally, each community was placed under the protection of at least one patron saint.7 Córdova, for example, was first assigned to San Francisco Javier, but Saint Anthony of Padua later became the patron (SANM I: #768, SRCA). Some communities, like Abiquiú to the west, have retained the association with a former patron and celebrate two feast days (Córdova 1973:63).

Prior to the dispersion of images in this century, most community chapels and churches housed altar screens, bultos, and retablos. Although such images were considered the property of all, a number of individuals were responsible for their upkeep. Two or more sacristans served as the guardians of the building and its contents, two couples (at least in Córdova) were chosen annually to organize the feast for the patron saint and to clean the chapel, and one or more individuals often volunteered to look after particular images.

These five levels are intended to provide the reader with some idea as to the range of contexts in which traditional images have played an important role in the ritual reassertion of group identity. One should bear in mind, however, that the situation is far more complicated than this simple picture would indicate. First of all, other levels may be isolated. Beyond the community level, for example, one finds that Córdovans are included within a parish that recognizes the Holy Family as its patron. Similarly, New Mexico has depended upon La Conquistadora, an invocation of Our Lady of the Rosary, for her protection for three centuries (see Chávez 1948:307). The saints may also symbolize national unity, as Our Lady of Guadalupe does for Mexico (Wolf 1956:163). Saints may serve as symbols of ethnic identity, and this is clearly illustrated by the sentiment of New Mexico Hispanos for La Conquistadora and of Mexicans of Indian descent for Our Lady of Guadalupe. These social groups usually maintained spaces devoted to the veneration of their religious images, as did groups at the five levels previously mentioned.

Second, the transfer of images between groups at various levels of inclusiveness provides an important clue to the nature of their role in Hispano society. Images were borrowed from persons at all levels, and individuals often used the images of other individuals and groups in the course of visits to chapels and in public rituals. Indeed, the success of a number of important ritual complexes, including the Holy Week functions of the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus, was predicated upon the transfer of images from one level of organization to another or from the possession of one group into that of another. An important example is provided by the velorio de santos (wake for the saints), where all owners were expected to lend their images when a wake was held in the community (Lucero-White 1936:5).8 Such borrowing of images and the procession of the images it entailed from the place of worship of the owner(s) to that of the borrower(s) even took place between Pueblo Indians and Hispanos (cf. Brown, Briggs, and Weigle 1978:79-80).

The transfer of images between different groups of owners illustrates a direct and practical side of a much more general problem: why were the saints and their images so important in Hispano Catholicism? In addressing this question, it is useful initially to recall the preceding material on the evolution of the image-carving art in New Mexico. Between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, artistic representations of the saints were increasingly severed, in stylistic terms, from their European and Mexican roots. Similarly, a process of iconographic selection occurred in which attributes familiar to New Mexicans were selected from among the elements presented by foreign prototypes.

This process may be characterized as a movement from the external focus of the early traditional art - that is, the attempt of its practitioners to imitate the fruits of more highly trained artists in Spain and Mexico - to an internal orientation or adherence to a local tradition. Some writers have suggested that this departure from academic prototypes was the direct result of the artists' inability to reproduce foreign models accurately (e.g., Steele 1974:1-26; Kubler 1964:4-8). On the contrary, this localization reflects a positive response of a group of native artists to the preferences of their people. The Puerto Rican example of the Virgin of Hormigu eros illustrates the fact that the process of localization is hardly a phenomenon exclusively characteristic of Hispanos in New Mexico. Furthermore, this regionalization of widely venerated holy personages according to local cultural patterns is evident in the legends surrounding the lives and the miracles of these personages. St. Isidore, for example, who was born near present-day Madrid about 1070 and died there in 1130, is recognized as the city's patron saint (Garcia Villada 1922; Reau 1958:111, 688). New Mexican legends portray him, however, as "a hard-working, honest rancher on a small tract of land in Agua Fria on the Rio de Santa Fe, on the outskirts of Santa Fe itself" (DeHuff 1948:131) or "a small bean-and chili-rancher [who] lived near the Rio Grande" (Applegate 1931:199).

A second part of the answer to this central question lies in the function of the saints and their images in Hispano life. These objects and their referents are important cultural and social mediators, and their role in Hispano society forms a central theme of the book. I use the term mediation (in its verbal and nominative forms) to refer to the symbolic connection of individuals, groups, concepts, social movements, and other entities. This process of relating involves more than a simple connection, as the identity of each of these entities is partly established in relation to the others and the nature of their relationship is expressed vis-à-vis the mediator, an element common to all of them.

A good example of this type of mediation is provided by the annual wake held until recent decades on St. Isidore's feast day, May 15, in most Hispano communities. The first part of the Córdovan observance of this ritual consisted of a procession carrying the image from the chapel to the uppermost fields, the recitation of prayers and the singing of the alabanza or hymn for St. Isidore, and a communal meal St. Isidore shares an additional mediatory function with the remainder of the saints. Salvation is granted by God the Father; nevertheless, Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints have the power to intercede on behalf of humans.9 These holy personages thus mediate in the relation between worshiper and God. Just as Christ, the Virgin, and the saints perform this task on a spiritual plane, the images embody an accessible means of evoking this mediatory power in the material sphere. The images derive their ability to mediate so effectively from their location at many junctures of the Hispano social system. For example, they are linked with a widespread religious iconography (the same personages are venerated in many areas) on the one hand, while they are tied into a set of local legends regarding the lives and miracles of the saints on the other. The images also serve as material embodiments of the legends in rituals which commemorate their referents, and the physical act of moving the images serves to bind together the various spaces, times, events, and persons that constitute the ritual (see Plate 6) . The iconicity of image and referent, the location of images in sacred places, and the priest's blessing of such objects enhance their potential for mediating in the relationship between supplicant, holy personage, and deity. The use of images in converting the Pueblo Indians, the importance of images in Pueblo Catholicism, and the transfer of images between Hispano and Pueblo settlements all suggest that Catholic images may serve as mediators of Hispano-Pueblo relations as well.10

In short, the images constitute a language, as it were, for a discourse that bridges a universe of holy personages and the social universe. Just as important, however, is the means they provide for transmitting messages from one worldly realm to another. In Chapter 2 we will turn to the description of some of these images and the individuals who carved them.


1. The phrase was coined by Fray Angelico Chavez (in Espinosa 1960 [19671:ix). Continue

2. One author differs from the views presented by most of his colleagues on this point. Espinosa (1960 [19671:12, 20) believes that paintings on hide of both Mexican and New Mexican origin were present before 1680. Continue

3. One conspicuous exception to this generalization is the nineteenth-century image maker Molleno, who made several paintings on hides (Boyd 1974:127). Continue

4. This apparent training of the artists and the greater adherence of these images to formal canons of artistic composition, perspective, and anatomy prompted Boyd (1974:118) to claim that they were Franciscans, while Espinosa(1960[1967]:21) reaches the conclusion that the paintings were executed in Mexico. Continue

5. Although some early writers believed the traditional images to have been produced by Indians, later authors such as Boyd (1950:137) were strongly convinced that this was not the case: the image makers were Hispanic. Nevertheless, the issue is hardly as clear as the literature might suggest. Stoller (1976) has suggested that some of the image makers of the first two periods might have been Indians or Hispanicized Indians. Continue

6. Shalkop (1969) provides a good description of two private chapels in Arroyo Hondo (near Taos) and their contents. Continue

7. Espinosa (1960 [1967]:83) suggests a general explanation of the origin of Hispano place names and corresponding patron saints: "Inmost cases the geographic name is the key to the date upon which it was applied, for often a place or landmark was given the appellation of the saint or the name of the feast on whose day it was reached or observed." Also see Chavez (1949:323-35) on the saints in New Mexico geography. Continue

8. Aurora Lucero-White (1936:5) writes: "The velorio de santos being a community enterprise, it includes all the santos in the community. No one may refuse to lend his or her santo for the occasion, including the sacristan who has custody of the church's images." Continue

9. In addressing the subject of the role of the saints in Catholic prayer, Hill and Stone (1964:281) write: The devout custom of praying to the saints is in keeping with a very old tradition of the Church. The saints are united with Christ in glory and with Him make intercession for us before the throne of the Father in Heaven. There they are able to plead for us to the Father as Christ Himself does. We pray to them to continue their pleading for us, their brothers and sisters on earth. Continue

10. If further research lends support to Stoller's hypothesis (1976) regarding the Indian identity of the earliest image makers, then an additional dimension of the mediating role of images in Pueblo-Hispano relations will become apparent. Continue

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