Stelae of Santos Reyes Nopala

Last updated in March 2017

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 Community Museum[2] 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.

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 Yuu

The next two photos are of a broken stela located inside the Community Museum. Probably a stela of Yuu, Chatino Goddess of earth, trees, plants and animals.[3] If you look closely, you can see a parrot on top of her head. 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.
  3. 2. I have seen the Community Museum or Museo Comunitario Chátnyo open once in all the times I have visited Nopala. It is rarely open and only has a view broken stelae in it. It is used more as a community center.
  4. 3. Pérez Sánchez, Javier Gerardo. 2010. Buscando el Origen de los Chatinos de Nopala. p 45.

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).