Saint Dominic(Santo Domingo), Yanhuitlán, Oaxaca, 16th Century
Before the Conquest, Yanhuitlán was an important Mixtec city in the highlands of Oaxaca. Although Dominican friars had arrived in the territory by 1529, construction was not started until 1548. Built on a platform raised 3-5 meters above ground level, this magnificent convento with its massive stepped buttresses dominates the landscape. The four bays of the single nave church are vaulted and the sanctuary fills a semi-circular apse, unusual in the 16th century. Perhaps the most striking feature of the church is the masterfully crafted artesonado ceiling on the underside of the choir loft. This ceiling of dark cedar exemplifies the influence of Islamic art on Spanish architectural models. Spotlighted inside the church is a carved stone baptismal fount that demonstrates the fusion of Christian and indigenous symbolism: the bowl of the fount is decorated with leaves and conventional Dominican rosettes, but the four stone legs are carved as plumed serpents devouring one another.