Claudio Jimenez Quispe with his Casa de los Gatos retablo in Santa Fe July 2005 - Source: Indigo Arts Gallery
What is a Retablo? from Indigo Arts Gallery

The term retablo traditionally applies to a broad variety of religious images which are painted and sculpted over much of Latin America. The word is derived from the Latin retro tabula, which means behind the (altar) table, where devotional images were typically placed. In Mexico, New Mexico and Guatemala retablo (or strictly speaking, retablo santo) has taken the form of images of Christ, the virgin, or the saints, painted on tin or wood. Carved and painted wood sculptures of saints and religious figures set in shallow boxes are generally referred to as nichos in this area.

The Peruvian retablo is, in a sense, a blend of the two forms. Figures of individual saints may be carved or sculpted of a mix of plaster and cooked potato and set in a shadow box, like a nicho. But frequently, as in the pieces shown here, they take the form of a three dimensional painting of a scene, consisting of many figures in very complex environments. The boxes form miniature houses or shrines, often with opening doors and a gable above the opening. Typically both the doors and the sides of the box are covered with an ornate, polychrome floral decoration. The Peruvian retablos traditionally serve as household shrines, which combine folk and Christian tradiions. The art form has evolved to include the depiction of secular scenes of daily life in Peru, such as markets, shops, harvests, weddings and other ceremonies. In some cases the subject matter may even be political, depicting the turmoil of the last few years.
Welcome and Overview

The Shasta College Library offers a variety of materials to assist you with your research and course preparation, including books, e-books, print periodicals, online periodical and encyclopedia databases, DVDs, videos, and more. The resources below are just a sample of what is available to you through your library, both in hard copy and online, 24/7.

Sampler of Favorite Online Library Resources

If you would like to view a list of all the databases available at the Shasta College Library, go to Articles and Databases

  • For an introduction to ARTStor's unique image collection of Mexican retablos.
  • Search term: retablo* retrieves nearly 300 images.
  • Search strategy: retablo* AND mexic* retrieves over 200 images.

Britannica Online
  • Search term: "shining path" retrieves a brief article giving the major facts about this Peruvian revolutionary organization.
EBSCO family of Databases
  • Provides access to current events, research, and Government resources
  • Databases may be searched individually or simultaneously
  • Many publications are available in full text
  • Most EBSCO databases are searchable with Library of Congress Subject headings, thus allowing for greater precision in searching
  • Simultaneous search of EBSCO Academic Search Premier and Masterfile Premier databases
    • search term: retablo* retrieves 30 full text articles
    • search statement: retablo* AND (peru* OR andes OR andean) retrieves 2 full text articles including a profile of Claudio Jimenez Quispe
    • search statement: ("sendero luminoso" or "shining path") AND peru retrieves 229 full text articles
    • search statement: guerrilla* and peru retrieves 197 articles
    • search statement: peru -- politics and government -- 1968 - 1980 retrieves 4 articles
    • search statement: peru -- politics and governemtn 1980- retrieves 280 articles
America's Newspapers
  • Includes 600+ full text newspapers including local papers such as the Record Searchlight, Red Bluff Daily News and the Sacramento Bee.
    • search term: "claudio jimenez quispe" retrieves 12 articles on the artist

Select Internet Sites. For additional sites, visit the Librarians' Internet Index,

General Collection

The library catalog is the author/title/subject guide to the library's 80,000 + books, videos, and DVDs. It's also the portal to the library's 18,000 (and growing!) collection of full text, online ebooks. There are some excellent resources in the general collection that can be checked out for two weeks at a time. Selected titles include:
    • Damian, Carol. Popular Art and Social Change in the Retablos of Nicario Jimenez Quispe. [NK 918 .J56 P66 2004] This book is currently on order and will be available for loan from the library soon.
    • Mills, George. The People of the Saints. [NK 835 .N5 M5]
    • Shalkop, Robert L. Wooden Saints : The Santos of New Mexico. [NK 835 .N5 S5]
    • Toor, Frances. Mexican Popular Arts. [NK 844 .T6 1973]

Books in the Shasta College Library Reference collection (for use in the library only)

  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas. [E 184 .S75 O97 2005 vol. 3] The art of santeros, retablos, and modern Chicano painting is discussed on pages 318-319.
  • Reference Library of Hispanic America. [E 184 .S75 R44 2002 vol. 3] Discusses the art of altarpieces, santeros and retablos on pages 435-436.

NetLibrary eBooks
    • 18,000 books selected with an academic audience in mind
    • All publications are available in full text
    • Searchable both through the Shasta College Library catalog and through the NetLibrary eBooks site
    • Searchable by keyword or Library of Congress Subject Heading
    • Individual titles are both browsable and searchable
    • Books in the Shasta College library NetLibrary E-book collection, 24/7 to Shasta College students and faculty (partial list):
      • Abercrombie, T.A. (1998). Pathways of Memory and Power: Ethnography and History Among an Andean People. Madison: University of Wisconsin. [netLibrary ebook collection]
      • Brown, M. F. and Fernâandez, E. (1993). War of Shadows: The Struggle for Utopia in the Peruvian Amazon. Berkeley, CA: University of California. [netLibrary ebook collection]
      • Gorriti E. G. (1999). The Shining Path: A History of the Millenarian War in Peru. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. [netLibrary ebook collection]
      • Roberts, K. M. (1998). Deepening Democracy?: The Modern Left and Social Movements in Chile and Peru.
        Stanford: Stanford University Press. [netLibrary ebook collection]
      • Wertkin, G.C. (2004). Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. New York: Routledge. [netLibrary ebook collection]

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    • Faculty teaching solely online and students enrolled solely for Internet courses and those working or taking classes at a Distance Education campus should follow this link to obtain their library card. Online library card applicationNote: Faculty members should enter their Shasta College ID# in the Student ID field)
    • Faculty and students teaching or enrolled in classes at the main Redding campus must visit the library's circulation desk to obtain their library card.

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