All of the stelae on this page were found in the area of Santos Reyes Nopala, Oaxaca. Most were found in the ruins of "Cerro Iglesia" or "Arroyo de Piedra", both of which are located just outside of the city of Santos Reyes Nopala. The stelae date from 750 BCE to 1522 CE.

In 1966, the stelae were moved from the ruins to the City Hall to safe guard them. When the new City Hall was built in 1974, most of the stelae were cemented into the walls of the City Hall.[1] The stelae can now be seen at the City Hall, the museum and on the walls of the old Catholic church near the City Hall. I have photographed most of the stelae at Santos Reyes Nopala. Most of the stelae I show twice, the first photo is the original and the second I photo is altered, hopefully making the image more visible. With some of the more important stelae, I have included a link to higher quality image.

To go on the second floor of the City Hall, you may be required to wear long pants if you are male or a skirt or slacks if you are a female. The second floor is sometimes closed off on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

Directly across the street from the Agencia Municipal is the new Museum and Culture Center (Museo ComunitarĂ­o de Arqueologia, Arte y Cultura Chatino) of Santos Reyes Nopala. The small museum has a display of farming equipment from the colonial era and a nice but small collection of artifacts and steleas dating prior to the conquest. There is a small box for donations (suggested to me was 100 pesos).

Stela of Priest

This two meter tall stela is the most well known stela of Santos Reyes Nopala. In one hand the priest holds a knife and in the other a sacrificed heart or an offering of some type. Image of Priest cropped but not altered in any way, (3.3 MB).

Stela of a Lady

This stela is in the museum and has since been repaired but I will use these old photos. The new lighting of the stela provides for a low qualitiy image, at least on my camera. The stela was found in El Zanate, Santos Reyes Nopala. According to the museum display, the stela shows clearly that the Nopala area had contact with the culture of Teotihuacan around 250-600 CE. The female in the stela is associated with the Goddess Xochiquetzal, a goddess associated with concepts of fertility, beauty, and female sexual power, serving as a protector of young mothers and a patroness of pregnancy, childbirth, and the crafts practised by women such as weaving and embroidery. Top Image of Yuu cropped but not altered in any way, (3.3 MB). Bottom Image of Yuu cropped but not altered in any way, (3.4 MB).

chatino stela of Yuu
chatino stela of Yuu

Creation Myth Stela?

chatino creation myth

There is a Chatino legend that their people originally came from the sea. The drawing to the right or below of a sea monster is a copy of the hard to see stela. Sea creature, (883 kB), the photo is cropped but not altered in any way. The next time I go to Nopala, I will try to get a better photo.

Other stelae

The stela below or to the right is located on the outside wall of the old Catholic church. Inside the church is another stela or lintel behind one of the saint statues.

Misc. Stelae

Nopala stela of animal head?

Recommended Links

If you are interested in learning more about Santos Reyes Nopala, you might want to visit: Santos Reyes Nopala, a day trip and Santa Lucía Teotepec Nopala.

Footnotes and Notes

  1. There are other stelae that I have not posted or photographed. They were in too poor of a condition to bother with.
  2. 1. Pérez Sánchez, Javier Gerardo. 2010. Buscando el Origen de los Chatinos de Nopala, Third Edition. Carteles editores. Spanish. p 58.

Photo Credits

Photos taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).