Clothing the New World Church
Liturgical Textiles of Spanish America, 1520–1820
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
394 pages, 178.00 x 254.00 mm, 186 illustrations
- ISBN: 9780268108052
- Published: February 2021
The book provides the first broad survey of church textiles of Spanish America and demonstrates that, while overlooked, textiles were a vital part of visual culture in the Catholic Church.
When Catholic churches were built in the New World in the sixteenth century, they were furnished with rich textiles known in Spanish as “church clothing.” These textile ornaments covered churches’ altars, stairs, floors, and walls. Vestments clothed priests and church attendants, and garments clothed statues of saints. The value attached to these textiles, their constant use, and their stunning visual qualities suggest that they played a much greater role in the creation of the Latin American Church than has been previously recognized. In Clothing the New World Church, Maya Stanfield-Mazzi provides the first comprehensive survey of church adornment with textiles, addressing how these works helped establish Christianity in Spanish America and expand it over four centuries. Including more than 180 photos, this book examines both imported and indigenous textiles used in the church, compiling works that are now scattered around the world and reconstructing their original contexts. Stanfield-Mazzi delves into the hybrid or mestizo qualities of these cloths and argues that when local weavers or embroiderers in the Americas created church textiles they did so consciously, with the understanding that they were creating a new church through their work.
The chapters are divided by textile type, including embroidery, featherwork, tapestry, painted cotton, and cotton lace. In the first chapter, on woven silk, we see how a “silk standard” was established on the basis of priestly preferences for this imported cloth. The second chapter explains how Spanish-style embroidery was introduced in the New World and mastered by local artisans. The following chapters show that, in select times and places, spectacular local textile types were adapted for the church, reflecting ancestral aesthetic and ideological patterns. Clothing the New World Church makes a significant contribution to the fields of textile studies, art history, Church history, and Latin American studies, and to interdisciplinary scholarship on material culture and indigenous agency in the New World.
1. Woven Silk
5. Painted Cotton and Cotton Lace
Glossary of Liturgical and Textile Terms
“Although there are several studies on pre-Columbian textiles, this is the first book I am aware of that deals with colonial textile arts. Clothing the New World Church allows for comparisons between different native traditions, colonial economies, and church styles.” —Andrés I. Prieto, author of Missionary Scientists
"Stanfield-Mazzi celebrates the vibrant transformation of Amerindian and European textile traditions crafted for a Spanish American Church that was 'shrouded in cloth.' Her insightful, fully documented Clothing the New World Church analyzes the fabrics’ materiality and techne, their warp and weft serving as an appropriate metaphor for a remarkable transatlantic synthesis." —Jeanette F. Peterson, author of The Paradise Garden Murals of Malinalco
"Maya Stanfield-Mazzi’s book provides the first broad survey of church textiles of Spanish America, demonstrating that, while overlooked, textiles were a vital part of visual culture in the Catholic Church." —Trebuchet
"Maya Stanfield-Mazzi provides the first comprehensive survey of church adornment with textiles, addressing how these works helped establish Christianity in Spanish America and expand it over four centuries. Including more than 180 photos, the book examines both imported and indigenous textiles used in the church, compiling works that are now scattered around the world and reconstructing their original contexts." —American Catholic Studies Newsletter
"In five generous chapters dealing with different types of textiles extensively used in churches across the Americas . . . the author provides not only an overview of the richness and diversity of the liturgical textiles produced and consumed during the early modern period, but also offers detailed discussions of pieces that despite their unique qualities have often been left out from larger discussions of contemporaneous artistic production." —caa.reviews
"This is a beautifully produced book of value to nonspecialist colonial historians and textile scholars, who will learn much about the social and cultural context in which church textiles were produced." —Hispanic American Historical Review