Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mexican Folk Jewelry - Crosses - La Cruz


I continue to research and seek information on the Yalalag cross.
The picture is an example with red heart beads and sterling beads.
I came across this brief historical paragraph on crosses in Mexican Folk Jewelry:

The Cross in Folk Jewelry

Jewelry crosses were not worn in the Americas until the Conquest. (I doubt this statement since its contradicted in the next sentence.). Since then, jewelry crosses of fantastic variety have adorned many "Americans," be they South, Central, or North Americans. Among the most interesting is the Yalalag Cross of San Juan Yalalag, Sierra de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico. Its basic design, which predates the Conquest, consists of a central cross from which hang three lesser crosses. The decorative elements in the design can be Indian in origin (usually geometric) or Christian (wings, hearts, flowers). A neighboring town, Choapan, uses a cross depicting Christ's head and a pictograph of the Passion (Arma Christi), a Franciscan representation. A cross with two arms in the upper half is called a Patriarchal Cross. This design, combined with two angels, the Caravaca Cross, is found not only in Spain but also in many parts of Mexico and South America. The Maya traditionally used an equilateral cross (the Greek form), representing the four directions or cardinal points. This cross is associated with astronomical / religious orientation and with the Tree of Life. Despite this strong visual tradition, the jewelry cross of Guatemala is usually of the Roman type.

The crucified Jesus has long been interpreted according to local custom and racial origin. His is shown in many diverse styles, the principal idea always being to show "God as Man." The missionaries were adaptable in their interpretations of Christ, following in general the color, style, or manner of those being proselytized. Thus, in contrast with the more austere European Christ, the Latin American Cristo is of a more relaxed, naive (naive? Really?) and sensual form, as seen in Peruvian and Bolivian jewelry crucifixes.

So the Cross symbol, like all symbols, is "a key to a realm greater than itself and greater than the man who employs it," to quote symbolist JC Cooper. It is a simpler, lower expression of a higher truth. Throughout all of the Americas, the cross remains, in all its forms and interpretations—be they native cosmological or European-derived Christian—a potent symbol and force.

Written by Patricia LaFarge to accompany an exhibition at El Rancho de las Golondrinas remote a living-history museum in La Cienega, NM, south of Santa Fe.

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