By Campbell, Paulette | Humanities, November/December 2003 | Go to article overview


Campbell, Paulette, Humanities

IN A PAINTING OF A CORPUS CHRISTI procession in Peru, descendants of Incan royalty wear native regalia and parade with Catholic saints. Korikancha Temple in Cuzco, once dedicated to the worship of the sun, the gods of thunder, and Incan rulers, is a Catholic church today.

Mestizaje, the fusion of European and indigenous cultures in Latin America, is a hallmark of colonial-era painting, architecture, and ritual objects.

A new website and DVD, Vistas: Colonial Latin American Visual Culture, 1520-1820, unites high-resolution color images with primary sources in Spanish and English, and interpretive essays. "Vistas will bring the best of the archive, the museum, and the lecture hall into the hands and onto the screens of college teachers and students," says Dana Leibsohn, an art historian at Smith College and project co-director.

Leibsohn is collaborating with Barbara Mundy, associate director of Latin American and Latino studies at Fordham University, to develop sections dealing with economics, iconography, and the historical meaning of Latin American objects and social practices. Music and video clips, bibliographies, timelines, and a glossary will provide context and suggestions for further research.

Vistas covers the period between the Iberian conquest of Latin America and the independence movement that would liberate all of the colonies except Cuba and Puerto Rico. "This period was the crucible for the formation of contemporary culture from Mexico to Brazil, from the Caribbean to the Andes," says Mundy. "During this time, lasting links were forged not only with Europe and North America, but also Asia and Africa."

In Corpus Christi Procession, San Cristobal Parish, a painting dated circa 1680, members of the parish of San Cristobal parade in a Catholic festival. Religious confraternities, religious orders, and the civil government follow a processional route toward the cathedral. Don Carlos Huayna Capac Inka, the cacique, or indigenous ruler of the region, is garbed in Quechua cloth worn only by the native elite.

The Corpus Christi painting is an important record of indigenous Catholicism and the hybrid of colonial religious practices, says Carolyn Dean, associate professor of art history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "Descendents of the Inca royal dynasty are shown in the painting in their capacity as leaders of the parishes of Cuzco," she says. "They wear royal Inca garments that have been modified according to Spanish tastes. For example, breeches have been added under indigenous tunics and lace sleeves have been added. They wear solar pectorals, which are a reference to the solar-worship of their royal ancestors. They are characterized in the painting as both rulers-they wear royal Inca regalia-and ruled-they escort Catholic saints-and are associated with both Inca and Catholic religions."

The commingling of cultures is also seen in the Caribbean zemi, a deified ancestor worshipped by the Taino, a group of Amerindians who inhabited the Caribbean at the time of the Spanish conquest. The zemi that appears on the website is two-faced-part bat, part human-and is made of local shell beads, glass mirrors from Europe, and rhinoceros horn from Africa. It was most likely created for a cacique, who would have had access to European goods.

In the first few decades after their arrival, Europeans collected zemis and sent them back home as curiosities; but they ultimately came to view zemiworship as an obstacle to the Catholic conversion of the Taino, and began to destroy the zemis.

"Making Sense of the Pre-Columbian," one of Vista's units, focuses on the ways in which people in the Americas and Europe collected, exhibited, and wrote about pre-Hispanic objects and sites. Antonio Leon y Gama's 1792 drawing of Coatlicuean Aztec goddess that symbolized the earth as creator and destroyer-is an example of how the interpretation of an object shifts with the political climate. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article



Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.