Virgin Of Guadalupe Analysis

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The story goes that on December 8th, 1534, on a hill next to Mexico City, a figure showed itself to the indigenous boy Juan Diego (Peterson, Virgin 39) The figure spoke in the boy’s native language, Nahuatl, and asked for a church to be built in her honor on the exact same spot (Peterson, Virgin 39). Almost five centuries later someone who travels to Mexico will not only find a basilica built in the name of the Virgin of Guadalupe, but will encounter thousands of images and representations of her throughout the whole of the nation. What is now known as Mexico’ mother of the nation’ is a dynamic icon that has been reinterpreted many times throughout Mexican history (King 1-9). In this thesis I will investigate and analyze representations of…show more content…
These traditional representations of the Virgin are complex images since they are filled with small details. The Virgin of Guadalupe stands in the center of the painting, and is surrounded by many different elements. The representations of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Figure. 1 and Figure .2 show a darker and more complex skin tone than that of a European colonizer. This alone suggests that she is representing an indigenous woman, and not a woman of European decent. As Jeanette Peterson discusses in more detail: “Guadalupe displays an oval face and regular features that are decidedly those of a Renaissance Virgin Mary. Her skin tonality is an ashen olive... Guadalupe’s skin color and black hair mark important ethnic signifiers” (Peterson, Creating 572-573). The Virgin’s body is fully covered with cloth. The dress under her robe is of white and red color. The dress is very long, which can be seen since a part of it literally lays on the crescent moon. Her robe has a blue color and is covered with stars. She wears a crown on her head. This might be a reference to the Spanish monarchy, constituting a link between Guadalupe and the Crown. However, she might also be depicted with a crown in order to construct Guadalupe as the queen of Mexicans, as Jacques Lafaye calls her in later times (280). Her clothing strikes both as pious as well as noble, and for the spectator resembles a more European apparel. However, there are signs of indigenous…show more content…
In the self-portrait López holds the snake firmly, in the portrait of her mother the snake is tied tightly yet almost invisibly around the sewing machine, while in the portrait of the grandmother she holds the snake tightly and indifferently, while holding a knife in her other hand. The snake has symbolic meaning for Mexicans. As Annette Stott identifies, “the snake is a native symbol of self-knowledge, sexuality and the cycle of life”, thus the snake in the images of the triptych, “represents a purposeful decision to reclaim an older part of an ethnic heritage that had become submerged under the national pressure to ‘melt’ into the mainstream” (57). Accordingly, the use and the meaning of the snake in the images of the triptych becomes obvious, it is both used to identify the Mexican roots of the family, but through its different depictions in each portrait it is also used to identify how the particular member of the family stands in subject matters such as national identity and sexuality. What becomes clear in the portrait of the grandmother then is that she is very comfortable with the fact that she is of Mexican decent and thus has no problems with her being a Chicana in the United States. This becomes clear because she holds the snake in her hands without fear and with comfort, and because another symbol of Mexican Catholicism, the crescent moon, is a dress pin that she seems to wear proudly (Stott 58).6 This
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