Photo Diary: Saint James and the Inca.

After a couple of weeks back in the U.S., I’m still trying to shift my brain from the Andes back to California. But one of the many pieces of art that keeps occupying space at the top of my brain is the above sculpture of Saint James, at the Casa Garcilaso in Cuzco. The saint, one of the Twelve Apostles, is frequently depicted slaying a Moor. (Though he was beheaded in Jerusalem in AD 44, legend has it that Saint James appeared to fight on the side of the Christians in a Christians-versus-Moors face-off in Spain exactly 800 years later — hence the image.)

But in the sculpture above, Saint James (Santiago, in Spanish) is shown slaying an Inca. The piece above is a replica of a sculpture from a church in the Apurimac region, which lies west of Cuzco. Unfortunately, the wall text provided little in the way of specifics — such as a date when it may have been made or if this was a common motif of the era. My semi-educated guess is that it was made at some point in the 18th century or thereabouts. Whatever the specifics, this surely has to be one of the most moving pieces of art I saw during my trip…

The Casa Garcilaso-Museo Histórico Regional is located on the Plaza Regocijo. It is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 8am to 5pm. Entrance for foreigners is with the boleto turístico.

2 comments

  1. Jason Lujan

    Whao – thanks for posting those images! I’d be interested in an entire exhibition consisting of works on themes like this. I’m curious if it was carved by Indians, as was the case for many religious sculptures and paintings for a while.

  2. c-monster

    My guess is that it was likely carved by Indians. Much of the art work produced in colonial Peru (along with just about everything else produced in colonial Peru) was made by indigenous people. This was one of those cases where I coulda really used some more wall text… Such an intriguing piece…