The Chumash Indian Tabernacle Returns to Santa Barbara Mission

The Chumash Indian Tabernacle Returns to Mission

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The original tabernacle is back at the Old Mission Santa Barbara. It had been on loan to a museum in Los Angeles.

It is the only native-made tabernacle among the California missions. It has abalone art made by the Chumash dating back to the 1780's.

It shows the story of the crucifixion on top of the tabernacle in symbols. Mission officials are thrilled the Native American artwork is back in one piece.

Museum Director Kristina Foss said, "many other artwork has been stolen from missions or destroyed in earthquakes and yet this piece has managed to survive so we get a window into the beauty with which these artists have since decorated these and they did a wonderful job."

The altar is made of wood and canvas and has its original blue paint which matched the blue and gold original colors of the original canvas lienzo or wall hanging which hung across the altar wall of the mission until it was badly damaged during the earthquake of 1925.

The bolts are lead and original. They are to hold up the antependium or decorated cloth hanging which was typically of the colors of the religious season.

There are mirrors on the tabernacle that create beams of light shown in the mission altar to represent the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

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