El Salto—The Corn and Orchid Paste Virgin
El Salto, one of a group of seven small communities along the Laja River, was possibly founded in 1878; however, as with much of the information gleaned in and about these small communities, that date may or may not be correct. The dates 1878 and 1879 are written on an aging piece of paper tucked in the back of a very small statue in a niche-like tin box inside the Capilla de la Virgen del Rosario.
This charming capilla with an open atrium and calvario has had major reconstruction and we puzzled over what might be original without coming to any conclusions. It appeared to us that the concrete for the patio covered up one or two steps leading into the capilla.
One of the mayordomos of this community, there are four, graciously answered questions and shared information with us in Spanish. We hope that the information we are passing on is correct, but sometimes we feel we are at the end of the game of telephone and it’s all in Spanish.
The highpoint of the day was a tour of the interior where we were able to see and inspect closely the namesake of this capilla. This tiny Virgen del Rosario, not more than 8” high, was made using an ancient indigenous technique called titzingueni, in which a frame of wood is covered with a paste made of corn pith and orchid juice, and then coated with gesso and painted—somewhat like the process involved in making a puppet using paper mâché.
On the way home, we passed two brick factories which are really small cottage industries.
El Salto (population: 228; dwellings: 49; 1865 meters; 100° 49’ 01” W, 21° 02’ 45 ” N). Check out the government document in Spanish, El Salto, San Miguel de Allende, for a wealth of information about this community including fiestas, history, governance, etc.
© 2016 Lorie Topinka All Rights Reserved