Crosses in Latin American Folk Art

milagros cross 229 mexico
Milagros cross, Mexico
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Cross handmade from fibers, Mexico

 

Gossypia has been selling Latin American folk art in Old Town Alexandria for over 40 years. One of the most prevalent symbols found in Latin American folk art, and folk art from around the world, is the depiction of the Christian cross. As the Easter season approaches, we’re reminded of how crosses came to be hung in Christian homes, and how this led to their prevalence in Latin American folk art today.

mexican milagros cross
Cross with Milagros, Mexico

In early Christian art, it was rare to portray the crucifixion scene other than in text. Since the crucifixion scene depicts the execution of Jesus, many early Christians thought it as not being suitable for use in art. In the fourth century AD, the mother of Constantine I, St. Helena, claimed to have found the True Cross, or the remnants of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.  The site of Jesus’ crucifixion became a pilgrimage site for early Christians, and the cross and crucifixion scene were soon used on souvenirs from the Holy Land.¹ The depiction of the crucifixion and the cross became more common in the fifth and sixth centuries, and from there, Christians began using the cross on household items, artwork, and hung in their homes to signal their devotion.²

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Cross with Milagros from Antigua, Guatemala

 

Latin America is today home to more than 425 million Catholics, about 40% of the world’s total Catholic population.³ As a result, crosses are often found in Latin American folk art and are hung in the homes of Catholics throughout the region.Latin Americans also have influenced cross and crucifixion art in the form of milagros (“miracles”) crosses. Milagros are small charms, often made of metal, which include symbols often relevant to a specific saint or religious figure. The symbols are used often to focus attention in prayer to a specific request, or for protection.

At Gossypia, we’ve had a large collection of Latin American folk art in Old Town for many years, and have a wide array of folk art crosses available for this Easter season. You can see more photos of them on our Instagram, www.instagram.com/gossypia.

fiber work 54 mexico cross fishermen
Cross Handmade from Fibers, Mexico
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Cross, Barbara Benham Ryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Crucifixion in the arts, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_in_the_arts#cite_ref-15
  2. “Why have Crucifixes and Crosses in the Home?”, Aquinasandmore.com, http://www.aquinasandmore.com/catholic-articles/why-have-crucifixes-and-crosses-in-the-home/article/170
  3. 3. Religion in Latin America, Pew Research, http://www.pewforum.org/2014/11/13/religion-in-latin-america/

 

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