Why is there no worthy ancient sculpture in Oaxaca? 1806

English Translation
This type of fired clay statue [the urn], flattened and masked, was worked in a fanciful and entirely unfamiliar style, therefore I include a drawing of it: one can recognize a cylindrical pipe at the back, a cavity designed to contain a torch or some other flammable material. Directly put, it functioned as a candelabrum in their ancient festivities. It is amazing that at [Monte Alban], a site of such fame and promise, where both chisels and squares are used with the same artistry, not a single piece of statuary is found. One would think that there would have been a number of outstanding works of sculpture to correspond to the number of great architectural works that remain. Amazement will cease upon reflection of the causes for this lack or disappearance. Because at some time, before or after their conquest, during this crisis, they would have to see to the burial or emigration of their idols. But no, I think that the most powerful reason made [for the lack of sculpture] is the unyielding proscription issued by the [ancient] iconoclasts against such false gods, who destroyed, without any thought for history or for the fine arts, and with similar zeal in their prejudice against these works, achieved, in part, their absolute destruction. While we are so unfortunate with respect to the works of sculpture, we will be compensated by the architecture. Although these [architectural] monuments very are deteriorated, they still remain fragments of beauty and complexity, ones which permit us to judge the whole through a part.    

Spanish Original
Esta especie de estatua de barro cocido [la urna], aplastada y enmascarada, la trabajaron sobre un estilo caprichosisimo y enteramente desconocido, por lo tanto me remito a su dibujo: se reconoce a su espalda un tubo cilindrico, propio a contener en su concavidad pedazos de tea o de qualquiera otra material combustible, y para decirlo en pocas palabras, haciendo oficio de candelabrio en sus festividades gentilicas: mucho se debe admirar, que un sitio de tanta fama, y que prometa tanto, y en donde con el mismo arte manejarian el cincel y la esquadra, no se halla trozo alguno de estatua, a un número de obras magnas arquitectonicas, como las que permanecen en él, corresponderian con probabilidad igual número de obras selectas de escultura cesará la admiracion quando se reflecionará qual pudieron haber sido las causas de ésta falta o desaparecimiento; pues en los tiempos anteriores y posteriors a la conquista en esas crisis, verificarian la sepultura o la emigracion de sus idolos; pero no: pienso que el motivo mas poderoso que hubo, fue la proscripcion obsinada y declarada por los iconoclastas de los falsos dioses, destrozando y sin eleccion alguna (si quiera) en favor de la historia o de las bellas artes, y con semejante zelo en perjucio de la dicha, consiguieron (en parte) su entera aniquilacion: Si fuimos tan poco afortunados, por lo respectivo a las obras de escultura, nos indemnizará con las suyas la arquitectura, y aunque estos monumentos son muy deteriorados, quedan todavia unos trozos de bella intreguidad, los que permiten por una parte juzgar de todo.    








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