God-Bearers on Pilgrimage to Tepeyac: A Scholar of Religion Encounters the Material Dimension of Marian Devotion in Mexico

in Religion and the Arts
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‭Contemporary ritual practice at the Virgin of Guadalupe’s shrine at Tepeyac emphasizes the material dimension of the sacred in Mexico: every day, ritual actions at the shrine confer power, prestige, and potency to images, effigies, and other replicas of the Virgin. One particularly pronounced devotional practice involves the carrying of replicas of the Virgin as sacred burdens: pilgrims carry these sometimes quite cumbersome objects tied to their backs as they make their way to Tepeyac hill. Drawing on the photographic series The Road to Tepeyac (2010) by Mexican-British photographer Alinka Echeverría, among other sources, this article explores the ritual processes by which material is infused with spirit and the body of the devotee becomes fused with the body of the Virgin. The analysis is contextualized within the history of devotional practice in Mexico.‬

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References

6

‭Peterson, “Creating the Virgin of Guadalupe” 574. Art historians have not concluded that the fabric is two pieces of finely woven fabric stitched together to form a canvas.‬

20

‭Jeanette Peterson, “Image/Text” 17. Peterson also cites Ross Hassig, Trade tribute and transportation 28–31, 34–40.‬

Figures

  • Figure 1

    Bishop Juan de Zumárraga kneels before Juan Diego’s apparition. Tepeyac, Mexico City, Mexico. Photograph by George & Eve DeLange, with permission.

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  • Figure 2

    The commonplace and the consecrated. Alinka Echeverría, The Road to Tepeyac © 2010. Published with permission of Alinka Echeverría.

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  • Figure 3

    Nested portraits and bindings. Alinka Echeverría, The Road to Tepeyac © 2010. Published with permission of Alinka Echeverría.

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  • Figure 4

    Mobile altar on wooden platform. Alinka Echeverría, The Road to Tepeyac © 2010. Published with permission of Alinka Echeverría.

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  • Figure 5

    Lace curtain Virgin. Alinka Echeverría, The Road to Tepeyac © 2010. Published with permission of Alinka Echeverría.

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  • Figure 6

    Obscured pilgrim. Alinka Echeverría, The Road to Tepeyac © 2010. Published with permission of Alinka Echeverría.

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  • Figure 7

    Teomamaque. Codex Boturini.

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  • Figure 8

    Sketch of a sillero in the Andes: D. Maillard. Assent of Agony, 1879. Le Tour du Monde: Nouveau Journal des Voyages, vol. 38 p. 363.

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