4.2a.3 Archangel Raphael
Painting of the Archangel Raphael by an unknown Chumash artist at Mission Santa Ines. Rafael holds a fish close to his body, and holds a staff in the other hand. His wings are unfurled behind him.
The Chumash are from the greater Santa Barbara area, where California condors would have flown and fish was a major food staple. This painting may be an example of the artist’s religious syncretism, a blending of spiritual beliefs from Native traditions (represented by the condor and the large fish) and Catholic traditions (saint and angel). There are very few primary sources written directly by Native people who lived at the missions, as their indigenous languages were not written languages and the large number of Native people who died after coming into contact with the Spanish left gaps in the oral traditions (songs and stories) for some Native communities. However, Native Californian people used art, stories, and songs to convey important messages over generations. Some Native people throughout California today continue to recite the stories and songs of their ancestors that tell of life at the missions. While this source is not a diary entry or other written source, the painting tells its own story of sorts through the eyes of a Native person who lived at Mission Santa Inés.
Ask students to identify the aspects of the painting that illustrate Native culture and tradition. Ask them to identify the areas of Spanish influence. Discuss how these two areas intersect. What does this tell us about the artist’s views as an indigenous person working within a Spanish institution?