Lenten curtain depicting the Crucifixion and symbols of the Passion

Spanish Colonial
probably 18th century
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General Description

The Jesuits established missions in northeastern Peru, far from the silver trade and embellished churches of Lima and Cuzco. In order to encourage local participation in the church, the Jesuits commissioned painted textiles made through traditional practices to convey Christian ideas. Produced on plain weave cotton fabric with local colorants, this curtain presents the Crucifixion and the Passion, the final periods from the life of Jesus.

On the textile, the right hand of Jesus makes the sign of blessing, while blood on his arms conveys suffering. Biblical figures Mary and John the Evangelist stand to either side looking upward. The central crucifixion of Jesus is emphasized through the inclusion of two thieves on crosses. A skeletal Death with his scythe suggests the limbo escaped by the good thief, while a devil awaits the impenitent thief. Symbols of the Passion include the veil of Veronica, the Crown of Thorns, and a cord-encircled column. The visually didactic imagery suggests that the curtain veiled a church altar during Lent, to focus contemplation on the days preceding Easter.

Excerpt from

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Inca: Conquests of the Andes / Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, Label text, 2015.

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