Holy Corn. Interdisciplinary Study of a Mexican 16th-Century Polychrome Maize Stem, Paper, and Colorin Wood Sculpture

Year: 2021

Authors: Quintero Balbas D., Sanchez-Rodriguez E., Zarate Ramirez A.

Autors Affiliation: National Institute of Optics, CNR (CNR-INO), Largo Enrico Fermi, 6, 50125 Florence, Italy; Laboratorio de Anblisis y Diagnustico del Patrimonio-COLMICH, Calle Cerro de Nahuatzen 85, Fraccionamiento Jardines del Cerro Grande, La Piedad 59370, Mexico; Seminario-Taller de Restauraciun de Escultura Policromada, Escuela de Conservaciun y Restauraciun de Occidente, Calle Analco 285, Analco, Guadalajara 44450, Mexico

Abstract: Maize stem sculptures, produced during the 16th and 17th centuries in New Spain (today, Mexico) are a clear example of the convergence of the artistic traditions from the American indigenous populations and European influence. This typology of sculptures is not limited to the Americas, as the examples found in European countries have shown. Therefore, a detailed technological investigation is required to correctly classify them. This work presents the interdisciplinary and multianalytical investigation of a 16th-century sculpture made with a maize stem preserved in Guadalajara city, Mexico. We used a set of techniques, such as CT, SEM-EDX, ?-FTIR, and ?-Raman, to study, from a macro to a micro level, the structure, the polychromy, and the modification of the sculpture. The results showed the use of maize stems, paper, and wood in the construction of the sculpture and the use of the traditional polychromy, as well as the numerous modifications that changed its appearance considerably resulting in its misclassification. We were able to associate the statue with the Cortys workshop (Mexico City region), probably produced in the decade of 1580, and track its liturgical use and historical development through the centuries.

Journal/Review: HERITAGE

Volume: 4 (3)      Pages from: 1538  to: 1553

KeyWords: maize stem; New Spain; computerized tomography; FTIR; Raman; SEM-EDX; Mexican sculpture; polychrome sculpture
DOI: 10.3390/heritage4030085

Citations: 2
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