Atrial Cross, c. 1550, New Spain
Christian symbolism became inextricably mixed with the symbolism of their religious believes.
This cross carved by indigenous sculptors is a visual manifestation of those hybrid beliefs.
Didactic function (place in the church atriums). Religious chronicles note that children who were being taught Christian doctrine often fathered around a convent's atrial cross on Sundays.
Low relief reflecting native sculptural traditions.
Symbols probably taken from illustrated books and bibles.
Representation of the weapons that Christ used to defeat the devil [ These are known as Arma Christi ("Weapons of Christ"), or the Instruments of the Passion]:
Holy face (similar to that seen on the Veronica's cloth), crown of thorns, the column of the flagellation with the roosters of St. Peter's denial flanked by the sun and the moon (symbols of Old and new Testament), Christ's tunic and the ladder used for the deposition, the nails of the Crucifixion and a gush of Christ's blood, the chalice with the Eucharist wafer, the lance that Christ was pierced with, the reed which was placed in Jesus' hand as a sceptre in mockery, the pincers used to remove the nails, and the pole and the sponge, St Peter's sword, the ear of Malchus, and the hammer. Angels heads and pomegranates surround the inscription at the top as symbols of regeneration.
Stole that wraps around both arms are is a liturgical garment symbol of the immortality lost by Adam and Eve and recovered by the Redemption.
There is a dual character to these symbols because they are associated both to Christian and native traditions
Cross represents both Christ's redemption of humanity and the tree of life of Mesoamerican religions.
The blood that sprays out of the nails is both Christ's and the sacrificial blood of native religions.