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Cruz Velacuy, Cuzco

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José Sabogal (1888-1956)

This canvas was painted during a trip to Cuzco in the first half of 1925. It represents a scene from the Cuzco festival of the Cruz Velacuy, which takes place every year between 2 and 3 of May. Although today the festival has a strong urban presence, at the beginning of the 20th century it was celebrated mainly in the small towns of the region. The painting shows the moment of the vigil, when the cross, already dressed and adorned, is surrounded by a group drinking chicha.

Sabogal himself referred to the indigenous cult of the cross as an expression of syncretism, by pointing out the presence of this sign in pre-Columbian iconography. Referring specifically to the tradition of the Velacuy Cross, he suggested that the “pantheistic” spirit of the Indians could be “performing during the day of the Holy Cross and all of May, archaic rites in homage to the Moon goddess (Mama Quilla), whose festival that month also included”.
(from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires ; Google translation)
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Image copyright : Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Copyright held by the museum that owns the work, not by the deceased artist who painted it.

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