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Our Lady of the Nativity (La Natividad de Nuestra Señora), Tepoztlan, Morelos, 16th Century

<p><strong>Our Lady of the Nativity (La Natividad de Nuestra Señora), Tepoztlan, Morelos, 16<sup>th</sup> Century</strong></p>

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, Tepoztlan was the site of an important religious shrine that drew in many inhabitants of the neighboring area. Dominican friars started Christianization here in 1538, but did not found the monastery until the 1550s. The monastery was complete by 1580, and the church by 1588.

The ruined shell of the open chapel and two posa chapels remain, one of them incorporated into the portería of the convento. Much of the convento is still in tact - sala de profundis, refectory, even a latrine used by the friars. The cloister, while architecturally austere, invites the visitor in with brightly colored frescos covering the barrel vaults of the walks.

The west portal of the church is an outstanding example of Mexican plateresque architecture. Sophisticated in design, the actual carving of the facade was undoubtedly done by indigenous artisans. Figures, particularly those above the portal, stand out from the wall in high, deeply undercut relief which clearly outlines the forms. The flattened surface of the figures is incised with bas-relief, which outlines the features of the figures, lending the sculptures the two dimensional look of a line drawing. The use of this pre-Columbian stone-carving technique to depict European images is referred to as tequitqui.