Palm leaves, flowers, ribbons, and paper ornaments decorate this roadside shrine in Chalma, a pilgrimage site not far from Mexico City. Like many of Manuel Alvarez Bravo's photographs, this image explores the devotional aspect of Mexico's daily life.
Since the 1500s pilgrims have been visiting Chalma, where a miracle is believed to have taken place. Christian missionaries, eager to convert the indigenous people, persuaded them to renounce their worship of Otzocteotl, a deity to whom they offered prayers and sacrifices. The miracle occurred when the venerated statue was found shattered and in its place rose a crucified figure. Though nearly five hundred years have passed, Christians still make pilgrimages to the site. In illustrating how the pilgrims mark their route, Alvarez Bravo's photograph reveals the rustic accoutrements of a cultural tradition.