Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Crosses of Ecuador

The cross is one of the most ancient human symbols, and is used by many religions. It is frequently a representation of the division of the world into four elements (Chevalier, 1997) or cardinal points, or alternately as the union of the concepts of divinity, the vertical line, and the world, the horizontal line (Koch, 1955).

The Christian cross, also known as the Latin cross or crux ordinaria, is the most common symbol of Christianity, intended to represent the death of Jesus when he was crucified on the True Cross and his resurrection in the New Testament.

As Ecuador is primarily a Catholic country, crosses (and angels) abound.

Of course you see them on churches, but often the corner stone of a building will have a cross in it and Cuenca is known for it's own special crosses.  

It is not known when the first cross image was made; after circles, crosses are one of the first symbols drawn by children of all cultures. There are many cross-shaped incisions in European cult caves, dating back to the earliest stages of human cultural development in the stone age.
The tallest cross, at 152.4 metres high, is part of Francisco Franco's monumental "Valley of the Fallen", the Monumento Nacional de Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caidos in Spain.

A cross at the junction of Interstates 57 and 70 in Effingham, Illinois, is purportedly the tallest in the United States, at 198 feet (60.3 m) tall.

The tallest freestanding cross is located in St. Augustine, FL and stands 260 feet.

Christians didn’t use the sign of the cross as their religious symbol for many generations after Christ was crucified. Rather than being a Christian symbol of hope and love, it only had the negative association as an execution apparatus for criminals.

So initially, Christians adopted the fish symbol or the trident symbol to identify their religion. Then, early in the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine publicly declared that Christianity should be tolerated, execution by crucifixion was abolished and the cross became the emblem for Christians.

Crosses are used for many different purposes:  in mathematics, as emblems and symbols e.g. the Red Cross, in heraldry and in flags throughout the world,

A cross with flared ends is known as a Greek Cross or Crux Pattee.  

This and the cross below, are examples of one of the crosses built in Cuenca by artisans.  They can be seen all around the city.  

This cross picture was taken at a large shrine across the street for the Church in Turi (a small district just outside of Cuenca).  It again represents the crosses made especially in Cuenca which often have the ladder & the chicken, etc. at the base.

Click here to see more pictures of Ecuador's Angels & Crosses