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ROBERTA CATARIN GUARCHAJ AND THE BLACK SAINT. NAHUALA, GUATEMALA.

Acrylic, enamel and copper foil on board, 42 x 62.5 inches framed. Exhibited: Ross Thiele & Sons Gallery, La Jolla, California, 1978. Estimate $850.

 

Roberta Catarina Guarchaj and her opened escapulario reflect the devotion of the people of Nahuala to the Black Christ of Esquipulas. Every spring they take their seen corn on pilgrimage for benediction at the Basilica of the Black Christ.

 

The Nahualanos hang escapularios around their necks with a heavy cord. Inside is an image of the Black Christ and their seed corn. It is a magnificent sight to see the pilgrims climbing the hills toward the basilica with these enormous medallions on their chests. It is also a rare sight these days since the Cofradia now usually hire buses to make the trip.

 

All the painted gourds and tinsel that cover Roberta’s escapulario are the usual fare that decorates the homeward bound pilgrim, whether on their hats, escapularios, bicycles or buses.

 

Behind Roberta are two-headed eagles called ‘Cot’ in most Mayan languages. Cot was the ancient god of Good and Evil and, like humans, his duty was to navigate a path down the middle road of life.

 

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