Friday, August 29, 2014

Colonial Mexico in the Continental United States: Where was Colonial Mexico?

Map of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (click to enlarge)
In colonial times, the Spanish controlled vast territories in the New World, extending from North America to South America and other areas in-between. During the colonial period the country that we now call Mexico was included in the territories that made up the Viceroyalty of New Spain.  The Spanish called the area that today is central and southern Mexico "New Spain" and since the Viceroyalty's capital was in Mexico City, the entire territory was also referred to as Mexico.  After its independence from Spain in 1821, it became known exclusively as Mexico.   New Spain and later Mexico, included vast areas that are within what is now the continental United States. These included parts of  Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas.    

New Mexico, a northern territory meant to serve as a buffer zone protecting the silver-rich northern areas of New Spain/Mexico from Indian incursion, remained a part of Mexico until 1858.  Texas was a part of New Spain and then Mexico from 1690-1836. Parts of Texas still retain a strong Mexican character and in the area around of San Antonio, there remains a chain of restored colonial-era Roman Catholic mission churches that are now a National Park. 

In future posts I  will be writing more about New Mexico,  which retains a very strong hispanic identity and the Spanish Missions of Texas.  In these areas, and others in the U.S.,  the boundary between Mexico and the United States remains lightly drawn.   

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Spanish Market and Mass, Santa Fe NM 2014 with Video

Booth at Spanish Market, Santa Fe NM

You can view my Spanish Market and Mass video at:  In it you will see the santeros, the artists who make the holy images, as well as the religious ceremony in which the images are blessed.  But first, please read the background information that I have provided below so that you will better understand what you are seeing.


Spanish Empire in New World
As you can see from the map, Spain's territories in the American continent extended well into what is now the United States.  Some areas of what is now the United States maintain a strong connection with their Spanish Colonial roots; one of these is Santa Fe, New Mexico. After consolidating their territories in Mexico, the Spanish began to move north in search of new lands and in 1598 Juan de OƱate founded the first Spanish settlement in New Mexico. In 1610, Santa Fe was established as the capital of this area and is the oldest capital in the U.S. In 1680 there was a major Pueblo Indian uprising known as the Pueblo revolt and the Spanish left the area, returning to resettle there some twelve years later.

Once peaceably settled, the cultures of the area, the Hispanic and the Pueblo intermingled in many spheres- art, architecture, dress, food and worship.  The annual Spanish Colonial Market in Santa Fe celebrates the artistic culture that emerged from this encounter.

 Santo of Virgin Mary
Several art forms are represented at Spanish Market- santos, bultos, colcha embroidery,furniture and jewelry, but it is the holy images, the santos, also called
retablos and bultos (statues) for which New Mexican art is most famous.

Bulto of Virgin and Child mounted on donkey
(from the Biblical episode of the Flight to Egypt)

Virgin Mary saving souls from Purgatory

 The culture of religious images, of the santos and bultos first flowered during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Scholars point out that there was a scarcity of clergy in the region and that religious images played an important role in keeping religion alive for the people. These images still do this, as you will hear the Archbishop say in his sermon in the video, the santeros (makers of holy images) "have their religion in their fingertips".