It was in 1531 that, according to the apparition legend first recorded over a hundred years later in 1648, Juan Diego’s visionary experience of the Virgin of Guadalupe was miraculously mapped onto his tilma (tilmatli in Nahuatl) or woven cloak. This painted cloth, hereafter referred to as the tilma image, is said to be the same relic venerated today in the basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City (fig. 1). However, no sacred image is invented from whole cloth, to use a highly appropriate metaphor here, and the Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe is no exception. Moreover, its very materiality makes it vulnerable to the passage of time, the laws of physics and human intervention. As an object of human craft produced post-Conquest, it has a traceable genealogy within the combustible mix of art modes, mixed media and theological tracts found circulating in early colonial New Spain.