Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monasterio de Santa Catalina

A few days ago I got to go to the Santa Catalina Convent. It was pretty neat. The Santa Catalina Convent was founded in 1579, less than 40 years after the Spanish arrived. The Convent has suffered many earthquakes so very little of it is from 1579, but a few parts are. Here is the Convent:The stone, when cleaned is white. It is from the volcanos. Women used to join Convents for reasons I would never have thought; widows joined, if you were the 2nd daughter in order to bring prestige to your family, and feminists of the day did to prevent arranged marriages. Here is where they slept:
They slept in archways for protection during earthquakes. Each cell is different as each family paid for the cell. Sometimes one nun lived alone and sometimes the cells were shared with family members. Each nun had 2 servants (women too poor to become nuns) and up to 4 slaves. This is one kitchen ajoining a cell. It still smells like ash.

The religious artifacts here a kinda morbid. Illiteracy was high, so art and sculpture were used for education and conversion. That is why images of Jesus are more "in your face" then in American and European traditions. This is one Jesus sculpture I saw. His hair was real human hair, he had a "baby teeth" in his mouth, and nails from corpses all to appear more real. There are also mirrors in his mouth to look like salivation. All of the Jesus sculptures in the Convent were crying and pouring blood.The Convent is "A City Within a City" and it is very true. There are several roads and for the most part it was pretty self sufficent. Nuns still live there to this day. I liked the laundry area.
The water flows down the irrigation channel, if you dam the water with your hand it flows into those huge, broken clay jars and the laundry can be washed. Slaves and servants did this work. Also, recognize this?It´s lantana, an annual flower in America. Here it is in PerĂº.

It is a tree here! There is also a Dome and Nave.You could walk almost to the top of the nave a look out over the whole city. This is Arequipa.
I really enjoyed all the architecture in the Convent.

That was my tour. Next up, a tour of the city hopefully. Chau.

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