America's First Cuisines
By Sophie D. Coe University of Texas Press, 1994 Library of Congress F1219.76.F67C64 1994 | Dewey Decimal 394.1208997
After long weeks of boring, perhaps spoiled sea rations, one of the first things Spaniards sought in the New World was undoubtedly fresh food. Probably they found the local cuisine strange at first, but soon they were sending American plants and animals around the world, eventually enriching the cuisine of many cultures.
Drawing on original accounts by Europeans and native Americans, this pioneering work offers the first detailed description of the cuisines of the Aztecs, the Maya, and the Inca. Sophie Coe begins with the basic foodstuffs, including maize, potatoes, beans, peanuts, squash, avocados, tomatoes, chocolate, and chiles, and explores their early history and domestication. She then describes how these foods were prepared, served, and preserved, giving many insights into the cultural and ritual practices that surrounded eating in these cultures. Coe also points out the similarities and differences among the three cuisines and compares them to Spanish cooking of the period, which, as she usefully reminds us, would seem as foreign to our tastes as the American foods seemed to theirs. Written in easily digested prose, America's First Cuisines will appeal to food enthusiasts as well as scholars.
Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes
Davíd Carrasco University Press of Colorado, 1999 Library of Congress F1219.76.R45T6 1999 | Dewey Decimal 972.5018
A result of four years of cooperative research between the University of Colorado and the Templo Mayor Project of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes (formerly available as To Change Place) offers new interpretive models from the fields of archaeoastronomy, history of religion, anthropology, art history, and archaeology. Included are contributions by such noted experts as Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Davíd Carrasco, Alfredo López Austin, Doris Heyden, Richard F. Townsend, Anthony Aveni, Henry B. Nicholson, Elizabeth Boone, Felipe Solis, and Johanna Broda, with a new introduction by William Fash.
Mary G. Hodge University of Michigan Press, 1984 Library of Congress GN2.M52 no. 18 | Dewey Decimal 306
The building blocks of the Aztec state were smaller, local polities known as city-states. Author Mary G. Hodge selected five city-states in the Valley of Mexico (Amecameca, Cuauhtitlan, Xochimilco, Coyoacan, and Teotihuacan) for detailed study of their internal organization.
Winner of the American Society for Ethnohistory's Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize
Scholars have long viewed histories of the Aztecs either as flawed chronologies plagued by internal inconsistencies and intersource discrepancies or as legends that indiscriminately mingle reality with the supernatural. But this new work draws fresh conclusions from these documents, proposing that Aztec dynastic history was recast by its sixteenth-century recorders not merely to glorify ancestors but to make sense out of the trauma of conquest and colonialism.
The Aztec Kings is the first major study to take into account the Aztec cyclical conception of time—which required that history constantly be reinterpreted to achieve continuity between past and present—and to treat indigenous historical traditions as symbolic statements in narrative form. Susan Gillespie focuses on the dynastic history of the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, whose stories reveal how the Aztecs used "history" to construct, elaborate, and reify ideas about the nature of rulership and the cyclical nature of the cosmos, and how they projected the Spanish conquest deep into the Aztec past in order to make history accommodate that event.
By demonstrating that most of Aztec history is nonliteral, she sheds new light on Aztec culture and on the function of history in society. By relating the cyclical structure of Aztec dynastic history to similar traditions of African and Polynesian peoples, she introduces a broader perspective on the function of history in society and on how and why history must change.
In Aztec Philosophy, James Maffie shows the Aztecs advanced a highly sophisticated and internally coherent systematic philosophy worthy of consideration alongside other philosophies from around the world. Bringing together the fields of comparative world philosophy and Mesoamerican studies, Maffie excavates the distinctly philosophical aspects of Aztec thought.
Aztec Philosophy focuses on the ways Aztec metaphysics—the Aztecs’ understanding of the nature, structure and constitution of reality—underpinned Aztec thinking about wisdom, ethics, politics,\ and aesthetics, and served as a backdrop for Aztec religious practices as well as everyday activities such as weaving, farming, and warfare. Aztec metaphysicians conceived reality and cosmos as a grand, ongoing process of weaving—theirs was a world in motion. Drawing upon linguistic, ethnohistorical, archaeological, historical, and contemporary ethnographic evidence, Maffie argues that Aztec metaphysics maintained a processive, transformational, and non-hierarchical view of reality, time, and existence along with a pantheistic theology.
Aztec Philosophy will be of great interest to Mesoamericanists, philosophers, religionists, folklorists, and Latin Americanists as well as students of indigenous philosophy, religion, and art of the Americas.
In this rich and surprising book, Frances F. Berdan shines fresh light on the enigmatic ancient Aztecs. She casts her net wide, covering topics as diverse as ethnicity, empire-building, palace life, etiquette, origin myths, and human sacrifice. While the Aztecs are often described as “stone age,” their achievements were remarkable. They constructed lofty temples and produced fine arts in precious stones, gold, and shimmering feathers. They crafted beautiful poetry and studied the sciences. They had schools and libraries, entrepreneurs and money, and a bewildering array of deities and dramatic ceremonies. Based on the latest research and lavishly illustrated, this book reveals the Aztecs to have created a civilization of sophistication and finesse.
In villages and towns across Spain and its former New World colonies, local performers stage mock battles between Spanish Christians and Moors or Aztecs that range from brief sword dances to massive street theatre lasting several days. The performances officially celebrate the triumph of Spanish Catholicism over its enemies. Such an explanation does not, however, account for the tradition’s persistence for more than five hundred years nor for its widespread diffusion. In this perceptive book, Max Harris seeks to understand the "puzzling and enduring passion" of both Mexicans and Spaniards for festivals of moros y cristianos. He begins by tracing the performances’ roots in medieval Spain and showing how they came to be superimposed on the mock battles that had been part of pre-contact Aztec calendar rituals. Then, using James Scott’s distinction between "public" and "hidden transcripts," he reveals how, in the hands of folk and indigenous performers, these spectacles of conquest became prophecies of the eventual reconquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Finally, he documents the early arrival of native American performance practices in Europe and the shift of moros y cristianos from court to folk tradition in Spain. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, mock battles between Aztecs, Moors, and Christians remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent.
One of the four main Aztec crops at the time of Columbus’s arrival in the New World, chia is now a forgotten food of the Americas. Chia seed oil offers the highest omega-3 fatty acid content available from plants, but today this species is known only for its use in "chia pets." Yet pre-Columbian civilizations used chia as a raw material for medicines and nutritional compounds, while chia flour could be stored for years as a food reserve and was valued as a source of energy on long journeys.
In this book, agronomist Ricardo Ayerza and agricultural engineer Wayne Coates trace the long and fascinating history of chia’s use, then reveal the scientific story of the plant and its modern potential. They compare fatty acid profiles of chia with our other major sources—fish oil, flaxseed, and marine algae—and provide evidence that chia is superior in many ways.
Here are just some of the benefits that chia provides:
- chia has the highest known percentage of alpha-linolenic acid, and the highest combined alpha-linolenic and linoleic fatty acid percentage of all crops
- chia has more protein, lipids, energy, and fiber—but fewer carbs—than rice, barley, oats, wheat, or corn—and its protein is gluten-free
- chia is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper
- chia is low in sodium: salmon has 78 times as much, tuna 237 times as much
- chia exhibits no evidence of allergic response, even in individuals with peanut and tree-nut allergies
- chia doesn’t give off a “fishy flavor,” unlike some other sources of omega-3 fatty acid
The need to balance the essential fatty acid content of the human diet, combined with the need for a safe, renewable, omega-3 fatty acid source, positions chia to become one of the world’s important crops. As this insightful study shows, current nutritional understanding provides an excellent opportunity to reintroduce this important food to the world.
"A thorough treatment of the sociopolitical history of the kingdoms of Chalco as seen through the eyes of one of the great post-Conquest Nahua historians. . . . Students of Nahuatl language will be rewarded by the extensive citations (with accompanying translations) of relevant material from original Nahua sources." —Choice
"By delineating the concepts and personae that were most salient in Chimalpahin's politically-oriented perspective on the past, Schroeder has advanced our understanding of native Mexican political organization and has made a major contribution toward interpreting the work of this Nahua historian." —Anthropos
"In this well-structured volume, Susan Schroeder synthesizes Chimalpahin's detailed information on the Prehispanic kingdoms of Chalco (located in the southern Valley of Mexico) with particular emphasis on their sociopolitical organization. . . . A valuable contribution." —American Antiquity
"This is an important piece of scholarship which makes more accessible to general historians of colonial Mexico an item of Nahuatl literature." —The Americas
In this companion volume to History and Mythology of the Aztecs, John Bierhorst provides specialists with a transcription of the Nahuatl text, keyed to the translation, and a linguistic apparatus to help elucidate it. The glossary offers definitions for all unusual usages in the codex, as well as careful treatment of many of the commonest (and most semantically flexible) verbs, adverbs, and particles. Detailed discussions of selected features appear in the Grammatical Notes, which complete the work.
Winner, Roland H. Bainton Book Prize, The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, 2019
Some sixty years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, a group of Nahua intellectuals in Mexico City set about compiling an extensive book of miscellanea, which was recorded in pictorial form with alphabetic texts in Nahuatl clarifying some imagery or adding new information altogether. This manuscript, known as the Codex Mexicanus, includes records pertaining to the Aztec and Christian calendars, European medical astrology, a genealogy of the Tenochca royal house, and an annals history of pre-conquest Tenochtitlan and early colonial Mexico City, among other topics. Though filled with intriguing information, the Mexicanus has long defied a comprehensive scholarly analysis, surely due to its disparate contents.
In this pathfinding volume, Lori Boornazian Diel presents the first thorough study of the entire Codex Mexicanus that considers its varied contents in a holistic manner. She provides an authoritative reading of the Mexicanus’s contents and explains what its creation and use reveal about native reactions to and negotiations of colonial rule in Mexico City. Diel makes sense of the codex by revealing how its miscellaneous contents find counterparts in Spanish books called Reportorios de los tiempos. Based on the medieval almanac tradition, Reportorios contain vast assortments of information related to the issue of time, as does the Mexicanus. Diel masterfully demonstrates that, just as Reportorios were used as guides to living in early modern Spain, likewise the Codex Mexicanus provided its Nahua audience a guide to living in colonial New Spain.
In Conquered Conquistadors, Florine Asselbergs reveals that a large pictorial map, the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, long thought to represent a series of battles in central Mexico, was actually painted in the 1530s by Quauhquecholteca warriors to document their invasion of Guatemala alongside the Spanish and to proclaim themselves as conquistadors. This painting is the oldest known map of Guatemala and a rare document of the experiences of indigenous conquistadors.
The people of the Nahua community of Quauhquechollan (present-day San Martín Huaquechula), in central Mexico, allied with Cortés during the Spanish-Aztec War and were assigned to the Spanish conquistador Jorge de Alvarado. De Alvarado and his allies, including the Quauhquecholteca and thousands of other indigenous warriors, set off for Guatemala in 1527 to start a campaign against the Maya. The few Quauhquecholteca who lived to tell the story recorded their travels and eventual victory on the huge cloth map, the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan. Conquered Conquistadors, published in a European edition in 2004, overturned conventional views of the European conquest of indigenous cultures. American historians and anthropologists will relish this new edition and Asselbergs's astute analysis, which includes context, interpretation, and comparison with other pictographic accounts of the "Spanish" conquest. This heavily illustrated edition includes an insert reproduction of the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan.
Following conflicting desires for an Aztec crown, this book explores the possibilities of repatriation.
In The Contested Crown, Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll meditates on the case of a spectacular feather headdress believed to have belonged to Montezuma, the last emperor of the Aztecs. This crown has long been the center of political and cultural power struggles, and it is one of the most contested museum claims between Europe and the Americas. Taken to Europe during the conquest of Mexico, it was placed at Ambras Castle, the Habsburg residence of the author’s ancestors, and is now in Vienna’s Welt Museum. Mexico has long requested to have it back, but the Welt Museum uses science to insist it is too fragile to travel.
Both the biography of a cultural object and a history of collecting and colonizing, this book offers an artist’s perspective on the creative potentials of repatriation. Carroll compares Holocaust and colonial ethical claims, and she considers relationships between indigenous people, international law and the museums that amass global treasures, the significance of copies, and how conservation science shapes collections. Illustrated with diagrams and rare archival material, this book brings together global history, European history, and material culture around this fascinating object and the debates about repatriation.
In communities throughout precontact Mesoamerica, calendar priests and diviners relied on pictographic almanacs to predict the fate of newborns, to guide people in choosing marriage partners and auspicious wedding dates, to know when to plant and harvest crops, and to be successful in many of life's activities. As the Spanish colonized Mesoamerica in the sixteenth century, they made a determined effort to destroy these books, in which the Aztec and neighboring peoples recorded their understanding of the invisible world of the sacred calendar and the cosmic forces and supernaturals that adhered to time. Today, only a few of these divinatory codices survive. Visually complex, esoteric, and strikingly beautiful, painted books such as the famous Codex Borgia and Codex Borbonicus still serve as portals into the ancient Mexican calendrical systems and the cycles of time and meaning they encode.
In this comprehensive study, Elizabeth Hill Boone analyzes the entire extant corpus of Mexican divinatory codices and offers a masterful explanation of the genre as a whole. She introduces the sacred, divinatory calendar and the calendar priests and diviners who owned and used the books. Boone then explains the graphic vocabulary of the calendar and its prophetic forces and describes the organizing principles that structure the codices. She shows how they form almanacs that either offer general purpose guidance or focus topically on specific aspects of life, such as birth, marriage, agriculture and rain, travel, and the forces of the planet Venus. Boone also tackles two major areas of controversy—the great narrative passage in the Codex Borgia, which she freshly interprets as a cosmic narrative of creation, and the disputed origins of the codices, which, she argues, grew out of a single religious and divinatory system.
Winner, Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize in Dance Research, 2014
Honorable Mention, Sally Banes Publication Prize, American Society for Theatre Research, 2014
de la Torre Bueno® Special Citation, Society of Dance History Scholars, 2013
From Christopher Columbus to “first anthropologist” Friar Bernardino de Sahagún, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century explorers, conquistadors, clerics, scientists, and travelers wrote about the “Indian” dances they encountered throughout the New World. This was especially true of Spanish missionaries who intensively studied and documented native dances in an attempt to identify and eradicate the “idolatrous” behaviors of the Aztec, the largest indigenous empire in Mesoamerica at the time of its European discovery.
Dancing the New World traces the transformation of the Aztec empire into a Spanish colony through written and visual representations of dance in colonial discourse—the vast constellation of chronicles, histories, letters, and travel books by Europeans in and about the New World. Scolieri analyzes how the chroniclers used the Indian dancing body to represent their own experiences of wonder and terror in the New World, as well as to justify, lament, and/or deny their role in its political, spiritual, and physical conquest. He also reveals that Spaniards and Aztecs shared an understanding that dance played an important role in the formation, maintenance, and representation of imperial power, and describes how Spaniards compelled Indians to perform dances that dramatized their own conquest, thereby transforming them into colonial subjects. Scolieri’s pathfinding analysis of the vast colonial “dance archive” conclusively demonstrates that dance played a crucial role in one of the defining moments in modern history—the European colonization of the Americas.
Winner, Book Prize in Latin American Studies, Colonial Section of Latin American Studies Association (LASA), 2016
ALAA Book Award, Association for Latin American Art/Arvey Foundation, 2016
The capital of the Aztec empire, Tenochtitlan, was, in its era, one of the largest cities in the world. Built on an island in the middle of a shallow lake, its population numbered perhaps 150,000, with another 350,000 people in the urban network clustered around the lake shores. In 1521, at the height of Tenochtitlan’s power, which extended over much of Central Mexico, Hernando Cortés and his followers conquered the city. Cortés boasted to King Charles V of Spain that Tenochtitlan was “destroyed and razed to the ground.” But was it?
Drawing on period representations of the city in sculptures, texts, and maps, The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City builds a convincing case that this global capital remained, through the sixteenth century, very much an Amerindian city. Barbara E. Mundy foregrounds the role the city’s indigenous peoples, the Nahua, played in shaping Mexico City through the construction of permanent architecture and engagement in ceremonial actions. She demonstrates that the Aztec ruling elites, who retained power even after the conquest, were instrumental in building and then rebuilding the city. Mundy shows how the Nahua entered into mutually advantageous alliances with the Franciscans to maintain the city's sacred nodes. She also focuses on the practical and symbolic role of the city’s extraordinary waterworks—the product of a massive ecological manipulation begun in the fifteenth century—to reveal how the Nahua struggled to maintain control of water resources in early Mexico City.
In Mexico’s Sierra Norte de Puebla, beliefs that were held before the coming of Europeans continue to guide the lives of modern Aztecs. For residents of San Martín Zinacapan, life in and on the earth is animated by the same forces, through which people seek to maintain a cohesive view of the relationship of mankind, the cosmos, and the natural world. This delicate balance of the human spirit maintains the health and well-being of villagers, and is an essential part of the social and ideological framework that makes a person’s life whole.
This book describes the basic elements of a belief system that has survived the onslaught of Catholicism, colonialism, and the modern world. Timothy Knab has spent thirty years working in this area of Mexico, learning of the Most Holy Earth and following what its people there call "the good path." He was initiated as a dreamer, learned the prayers and techniques for curing maladies of the human soul, and from his long association with the Sanmartinos has constructed a thorough account of their beliefs and practices.
Learning to recount dreams, forming a dreamtale, and "carrying it on one’s back" to the waking world is the first part of the practitioner’s labor in curing. But dreamtales are shown to be more than parables in this world, for they embody the ethos and cosmovision that link Sanmartinos with their traditions and the Most Holy Earth. Building on this background, Knab describes how the open-ended interpretation of dreams is the practitioner’s primary instrument for restoring a client’s soul to its proper equilibrium, thus providing a practical approach to finding and resolving everyday problems.
Many anthropologists hold that such beliefs have long since disappeared into the nebulous past, but in San Martín they remain alive and well. The underworld of the ancestors, talocan or Tlalocan for the Aztecs, is still a vital part of everyday life for the people of the Sierra Norte de Puebla. The Dialogue of Earth and Sky is an important record of a culture that has maintained a precolumbian cosmovision for nearly 500 years, revealing that this system is as resonant today with the ethos of Mesoamerican peoples as it was for their ancestors.
Fanning the Sacred Flame: Mesoamerican Studies in Honor of H. B. Nicholson contains twenty-two original papers in tribute to H. B. "Nick" Nicholson, a pioneer of Mesoamerican research. His intellectual legacy is recognized by Mesoamerican archaeologists, art historians, ethnohistorians, and ethnographers--students, colleagues, and friends who derived inspiration and encouragement from him throughout their own careers. Each chapter, which presents original research inspired by Nicholson, pays tribute to the teacher, writer, lecturer, friend, and mentor who became a legend within his own lifetime.
Covering all of Mesoamerica across all time periods, contributors include Patricia R. Anawalt, Alfredo López Austin, Anthony Aveni, Robert M. Carmack, David C. Grove, Richard D. Hansen, Leonardo López Luján, Kevin Terraciano, and more. Eloise Quiñones Keber provides a thorough biographical sketch, detailing Nicholson's academic and professional journey. Publication supported, in part, by The Patterson Foundation and several private donors.
The ancient Aztecs dwelt at the center of a dazzling and complex cosmos. From this position they were acutely receptive to the demands of their gods. The Fifth Sun represents a dramatic overview of the Aztec conception of the universe and the gods who populated it—Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent; Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror; and Huitzilopochtli, the Southern Hummingbird. Burr Cartwright Brundage explores the myths behind these and others in the Aztec pantheon in a way that illuminates both the human and the divine in Aztec life.
The cult of human sacrifice is a pervasive theme in this study. It is a concept that permeated Aztec mythology and was the central preoccupation of the aggressive Aztec state. Another particularly interesting belief explored here is the “mask pool,” whereby gods could exchange regalia and, thus, identities.
This vivid and eminently readable study also covers the use of hallucinogens; cannibalism; the calendars of ancient Mexico; tlachtli, the life-and-death ball game; the flower wars; divine transfiguration; and the evolution of the war god of the Mexica. A splendid introduction to Aztec religion, The Fifth Sun also contains insights for specialists in ethnohistory, mythology, and religion.
Honorable Mention, 2021 LASA Mexico Humanities Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association, Mexico Section
In the sixteenth century, the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún and a team of indigenous grammarians, scribes, and painters completed decades of work on an extraordinary encyclopedic project titled General History of the Things of New Spain, known as the Florentine Codex (1575–1577). Now housed in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence and bound in three lavishly illustrated volumes, the codex is a remarkable product of cultural exchange in the early Americas.
In this edited volume, experts from multiple disciplines analyze the manuscript’s bilingual texts and more than 2,000 painted images and offer fascinating, new insights on its twelve books. The contributors examine the “three texts” of the codex—the original Nahuatl, its translation into Spanish, and its painted images. Together, these constitute complementary, as well as conflicting, voices of an extended dialogue that occurred in and around Mexico City. The volume chapters address a range of subjects, from Nahua sacred beliefs, moral discourse, and natural history to the Florentine artists’ models and the manuscript’s reception in Europe. The Florentine Codex ultimately yields new perspectives on the Nahua world several decades after the fall of the Aztec empire.
Two of the world’s leading scholars of the Aztec language and culture have translated Sahagún’s monumental and encyclopedic study of native life in Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest. This immense undertaking is the first complete translation into any language of Sahagún’s Nahuatl text, and represents one of the most distinguished contributions in the fields of anthropology, ethnography, and linguistics.
Written between 1540 and 1585, the Florentine Codex (so named because the manuscript has been part of the Laurentian Library’s collections since at least 1791) is the most authoritative statement we have of the Aztecs’ lifeways and traditions—a rich and intimate yet panoramic view of a doomed people.
The Florentine Codex is divided by subject area into twelve books and includes over 2,000 illustrations drawn by Nahua artists in the sixteenth century.
Book Two gives comprehensive accounts of the religious ceremonies and days of feasting during the time of the Aztecs, including prayers, songs, and the duties and roles of Aztecs inside the temples during the ceremonies. This book also details the various tributes and sacrifices given to specific gods.
The toil of several million peasant farmers in Aztec Mexico transformed lakebeds and mountainsides into a checkerboard of highly productive fields. This book charts the changing fortunes of one Aztec settlement and its terraced landscapes from the twelfth to the twenty-first century. It also follows the progress and missteps of a team of archaeologists as they pieced together this story.
Working at a settlement in the Toluca Valley of central Mexico, the authors used fieldwalking, excavation, soil and artifact analyses, maps, aerial photos, land deeds, and litigation records to reconstruct the changing landscape through time. Exploiting the methodologies and techniques of several disciplines, they bring context to eight centuries of the region’s agrarian history, exploring the effects of the Aztec and Spanish Empires, reform, and revolution on the physical shape of the Mexican countryside and the livelihoods of its people. Accessible to specialists and nonspecialists alike, this well-illustrated and well-organized volume provides a step-by-step guide that can be applied to the study of terraced landscapes anywhere in the world.
The four authors share an interest in terraced landscapes and have worked together and on their own on a variety of archaeological projects in Mesoamerica, the Mediterranean, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
One of the great documents of colonial Mexico, the Codex Chimalpopoca chronicles the rise of Aztec civilization and preserves the mythology on which it was based. Its two complementary texts, Annals of Cuauhtitlan and Legend of the Suns, record the pre-Cortésian history of the Valley of Mexico together with firsthand versions of that region's myths.
Of particular interest are the stories of the hero-god Quetzalcoatl, for which the Chimalpopoca is the premier source. John Bierhorst's work is the first major scholarship on the Codex Chimalpopoca in more than forty years. His is the first edition in English and the first in any language to include the complete text of the Legend of the Suns. The precise, readable translation not only contributes to the study of Aztec history and literature but also makes the codex an indispensable reference for Aztec cultural topics, including land tenure, statecraft, the role of women, the tribute system, warfare, and human sacrifice.
Around 1542, descendants of the Aztec rulers of Mexico created accounts of the pre-Hispanic history of the city of Tetzcoco, Mexico, one of the imperial capitals of the Aztec Empire. Painted in iconic script ("picture writing"), the Codex Xolotl, the Quinatzin Map, and the Tlohtzin Map appear to retain and emphasize both pre-Hispanic content and also pre-Hispanic form, despite being produced almost a generation after the Aztecs surrendered to Hernán Cortés in 1521. Yet, as this pioneering study makes plain, the reality is far more complex.
Eduardo de J. Douglas offers a detailed critical analysis and historical contextualization of the manuscripts to argue that colonial economic, political, and social concerns affected both the content of the three Tetzcocan pictorial histories and their archaizing pictorial form. As documents composed by indigenous people to assert their standing as legitimate heirs of the Aztec rulers as well as loyal subjects of the Spanish Crown and good Catholics, the Tetzcocan manuscripts qualify as subtle yet shrewd negotiations between indigenous and Spanish systems of signification and between indigenous and Spanish concepts of real property and political rights. By reading the Tetzcocan manuscripts as calculated responses to the changes and challenges posed by Spanish colonization and Christian evangelization, Douglas's study significantly contributes to and expands upon the scholarship on central Mexican manuscript painting and recent critical investigations of art and political ideology in colonial Latin America.
This significant work reconstructs the repertory of insignia of rank and the contexts and symbolic meanings of their use, along with their original terminology, among the Nahuatl-speaking communities of Mesoamerica from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Attributes of rank carried profound symbolic meaning, encoding subtle messages about political and social status, ethnic and gender identity, regional origin, individual and community history, and claims to privilege.
Olko engages with and builds upon extensive worldwide scholarship and skillfully illuminates this complex topic, creating a vital contribution to the fields of pre-Columbian and colonial Mexican studies. It is the first book to integrate pre- and post-contact perspectives, uniting concepts and epochs usually studied separately. A wealth of illustrations accompanies the contextual analysis and provides essential depth to this critical work. Insignia of Rank in the Nahua World substantially expands and elaborates on the themes of Olko's Turquoise Diadems and Staffs of Office, originally published in Poland and never released in North America.
Invasion and Transformation examines the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and transformations in political, social, cultural, and religious life in Mexico during the Conquest and the ensuing colonial period. In particular, contributors consider the ways in which the Conquest itself was remembered, both in its immediate aftermath and in later centuries.
Was Moteuczoma really as weak as history portrayed him? As Susan D. Gillespie instead suggests in "Blaming Moteuczoma," the representation of Moteuczoma as a scapegoat for the Aztec defeat can be understood as a product of indigenous resistance and accommodation following the imposition of Spanish colonialism. Chapters address the various roles (real and imagined) of Moteuczoma, Cortés, and Malinche in the fall of the Aztecs; the representation of history in colonial art; and the complex cultural transformations that actually took place.
Including full-color reproductions of seventeenth-century paintings of the Conquest, Invasion and Transformation will appeal to scholars and students of Latin American history and anthropology, art history, colonial literature, and transatlantic studies. Contributors include Rebecca P. Brienen, Louise M. Burkhart, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Constance Cortez, Viviana Diáz Balsera, Martha Few, Susan D. Gillespie, Margaret A. Jackson, Diana Magaloni Kerpel, Matthew Restall, Michael Schreffler.
"People who live in California deny the past," asserts Alejandro Murguía. In a state where "what matters is keeping up with the current trends, fads, or latest computer gizmo," no one has "the time, energy, or desire to reflect on what happened last week, much less what happened ten years ago, or a hundred." From this oblivion of memory, he continues, comes a false sense of history, a deluded belief that the way things are now is the way they have always been.
In this work of creative nonfiction, Murguía draws on memories—his own and his family's reaching back to the eighteenth century—to (re)construct the forgotten Chicano-indigenous history of California. He tells the story through significant moments in California history, including the birth of the mestizo in Mexico, destruction of Indian lifeways under the mission system, violence toward Mexicanos during the Gold Rush, Chicano farm life in the early twentieth century, the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, Chicano-Latino activism in San Francisco in the 1970s, and the current rebirth of Chicano-Indio culture. Rejecting the notion that history is always written by the victors, and refusing to be one of the vanquished, he declares, "This is my California history, my memories, richly subjective and atavistic."
In Memory, Myth, and Time in Mexico, noted Mexican scholar Enrique Florescano’s Memoria mexicana becomes available for the first time in English. A collection of essays tracing the many memories of the past created by different individuals and groups in Mexico, the book addresses the problem of memory and changing ideas of time in the way Mexicans conceive of their history. Original in perspective and broad in scope, ranging from the Aztec concept of the world and history to the ideas of independence, this book should appeal to a wide readership.
For more than a millennium the great Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan (c. 150 B.C.E. - 750 C.E.) has been imagined and reimagined by a host of subsequent cultures, including our own. Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage engages the subject of the unity and diversity of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica by focusing on the classic heritage of this ancient city. This new volume is the product of several years of research by members of Princeton University's Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project and Mexico's Proyecto Teotihuacán. Offering a variety of disciplinary perspectives - including the history of religions, anthropology, archaeology, and art history - and a wealth of new data, Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage examines Teotihuacan's rippling influence across Mesoamerican time and space, including important patterns of continuity and change, and its relationships, both historical and symbolic, with Tenochtitlan, Cholula, and various Maya communities.
The contributors to Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage offer a wide range of individual interpretations, but they agree that Teotihuacan, more than any other pre-Hispanic center, was a paradigmatic source that formed the art and architecture, cosmology and ritual life, and conceptions of urbanism and political authority for significant parts of the Mesoamerican world. This great city achieved the prestige of being the site of the creation of the cosmos and of effective social and political space in Mesoamerica through its capacity to symbolize, perform, and export its imperial authority. These essays reveal the different ways in which Teotihuacan's classic heritage both fed and fed on the dynamic interactivity of the entire area. Whether or not a paradigm shift in Mesoamerican studies is taking place, certainly a new contextual understanding of Teotihuacan and the diversities and unities of Mesoamerica is emerging in these pages.
Guilhem Olivier's Mockeries and Metamorphoses of an Aztec God is a masterful study of Tezcatlipoca, one of the greatest but least understood deities in the Mesoamerican pantheon.
An enigmatic and melodramatic figure, the Lord of the Smoking Mirror was both drunken seducer and mutilated transgressor and although he severely punished those who violated pre-Columbian moral codes, he also received mortal confessions. A patron deity to kings and warriors as well as a protector of slaves, Tezcatlipoca often clashed in epic confrontations with his "enemy brother" Quetzalcoatl, the famed Feathered Serpent. Yet these powers of Mesoamerican mythology collaborated to create the world, and their common attributes hint at a dual character.
In a sophisticated, systematic tour through the sources and problems related to Tezcatlipoca's protean powers and shifting meanings, Olivier guides readers through the symbolic names of this great god, from his representation on skins and stones to his relationship to ritual knives and other deities.
Drawing upon iconographic material, chronicles written in Spanish and in Nahuatl, and the rich contributions of ethnography, Mockeries and Metamorphoses of an Aztec God - like the mirror of Tezcatlipoca in which the fates of mortals were reflected - reveals an important but obscured portion of the cosmology of pre-Columbian Mexico.
Though the Aztec Empire fell to Spain in 1521, three principal heirs of the last emperor, Moctezuma II, survived the conquest and were later acknowledged by the Spanish victors as reyes naturales (natural kings or monarchs) who possessed certain inalienable rights as Indian royalty. For their part, the descendants of Moctezuma II used Spanish law and customs to maintain and enhance their status throughout the colonial period, achieving titles of knighthood and nobility in Mexico and Spain. So respected were they that a Moctezuma descendant by marriage became Viceroy of New Spain (colonial Mexico's highest governmental office) in 1696.
This authoritative history follows the fortunes of the principal heirs of Moctezuma II across nearly two centuries. Drawing on extensive research in both Mexican and Spanish archives, Donald E. Chipman shows how daughters Isabel and Mariana and son Pedro and their offspring used lawsuits, strategic marriages, and political maneuvers and alliances to gain pensions, rights of entailment, admission to military orders, and titles of nobility from the Spanish government. Chipman also discusses how the Moctezuma family history illuminates several larger issues in colonial Latin American history, including women's status and opportunities and trans-Atlantic relations between Spain and its New World colonies.
Updated with a new chapter by Davíd Carrasco describing how the Aztec world has been re-imagined by modern Mexican American communities and Chicano scholars, Moctezuma’s Mexico is a lavishly illustrated volume that provides an in-depth historical profile of the Aztec empire on the eve of its fateful encounter with the Europeans. Beginning with an exploration of Aztec history and cosmovision, the authors and two other prominent scholars-Anthony Aveni and Elizabeth Hill Boone-examine Aztec ceremonies, astronomy, myths, rhetoric, and moral philosophy, as well as controversies in recent Aztec scholarship using poetry, sculpture, painting, and the archaeological record.
With nearly 150 full-color illustrations, Moctezuma’s Mexico is an important and handsome book that will appeal to scholars and students of Mexico’s indigenous past.
The Myth of Quetzalcoatl is a translation of Alfredo López Austin’s 1973 book Hombre-Dios: Religión y politica en el mundo náhuatl. Despite its pervasive and lasting influence on the study of Mesoamerican history, religion in general, and the Quetzalcoatl myth in particular, this work has not been available in English until now.
The importance of Hombre-Dios and its status as a classic arise from its interdisciplinary approach, creative use of a wide range of source material, and unsurpassed treatment of its subject—the nature and content of religious beliefs and rituals among the native populations of Mesoamerica and the manner in which they fused with and helped sanctify political authority and rulership in both the pre- and post-conquest periods. Working from a wide variety of previously neglected documentary sources, incorporating myth, archaeology, and the ethnography of contemporary Native Americans including non-Nahua peoples, López Austin traces the figure of Quetzalcoatl as a “Man-God” from pre-conquest times, while Russ Davidson’s translator’s note, Davíd Carrasco's foreword, and López Austin’s introduction place the work within the context of modern scholarship.
López Austin’s original work on Quetzalcoatl is a pivotal work in the field of anthropology, and this long-overdue English translation will be of significance to historians, anthropologists, linguists, and serious readers interested in Mesoamerica.
This volume consists of papers from the 1992 Dumbarton Oaks conference marking the quincentennial of Columbus’s landing in the Americas. By directing their attention toward the indigenous response to the Spanish intrusion, to the cultural adjustments and negotiations it required, the editors and authors of this volume hope that a better understanding can be achieved of the cultural features that made native societies so resilient.
Moteuczoma, the last king who ruled the Aztec Empire, was rarely seen or heard by his subjects, yet his presence was felt throughout the capital city of Tenochtitlan, where his deeds were recorded in hieroglyphic inscriptions on monuments and his command was expressed in highly refined ritual performances. What did Moteuczoma’s “fame” mean in the Aztec world? How was it created and maintained? In this innovative study, Patrick Hajovsky investigates the king’s inscribed and spoken name, showing how it distinguished his aura from those of his constituencies, especially other Aztec nobles, warriors, and merchants, who also vied for their own grandeur and fame. While Tenochtitlan reached its greatest size and complexity under Moteuczoma, the “Great Speaker” innovated upon fame by tying his very name to the Aztec royal office.
As Moteuczoma’s fame transcends Aztec visual and oral culture, Hajovsky brings together a vast body of evidence, including Nahuatl language and poetry, indigenous pictorial manuscripts and written narratives, and archaeological and sculptural artifacts. The kaleidoscopic assortment of sources casts Moteuczoma as a divine king who, while inheriting the fame of past rulers, saw his own reputation become entwined with imperial politics, ideological narratives, and eternal gods. Hajovsky also reflects on posthumous narratives about Moteuczoma, which created a very different sense of his fame as a conquered subject. These contrasting aspects of fame offer important new insights into the politics of personhood and portraiture across Aztec and colonial-period sources.
During the period of Aztec expansion and empire (ca. 1325–1525), scribes of high social standing used a pictographic writing system to paint hundreds of manuscripts detailing myriad aspects of life, including historical, calendric, and religious information. Following the Spanish conquest, native and mestizo tlacuiloque (artist-scribes) of the sixteenth century continued to use pre-Hispanic pictorial writing systems to record information about native culture. Three of these manuscripts—Codex Boturini, Codex Azcatitlan, and Codex Aubin—document the origin and migration of the Mexica people, one of several indigenous groups often collectively referred to as “Aztec.”
In Portraying the Aztec Past, Angela Herren Rajagopalan offers a thorough study of these closely linked manuscripts, articulating their narrative and formal connections and examining differences in format, style, and communicative strategies. Through analyses that focus on the materials, stylistic traits, facture, and narrative qualities of the codices, she places these annals in their historical and social contexts. Her work adds to our understanding of the production and function of these manuscripts and explores how Mexica identity is presented and framed after the conquest.
Davíd Carrasco draws from the perspectives of the history of religions, anthropology, and urban ecology to explore the nature of the complex symbolic form of Quetzalcoatl in the organization, legitimation, and subversion of a large segment of the Mexican urban tradition. His new Preface addresses this tradition in the light of the Columbian quincentennial.
"This book, rich in ideas, constituting a novel approach . . . represents a stimulating and provocative contribution to Mesoamerican studies. . . . Recommended to all serious students of the New World's most advanced indigenous civilization."—H. B. Nicholson, Man
"Like J. Eric Thompson, Carrasco has applied an informed imagination to identify some of the ways that ideas could lie behind material form."
- American Anthropologist
"A must for both professional and serious non-professional students in Mesoamerica. Those who are interested in complex society and urbanism in general, as well as students of comparative religion, will find it stimulating. Most importantly, for anyone interested in the history of ideas, the book illuminates the tremendously powerful impact and role of a complex deity/mythico-historical figure in shaping one of the world's great pristine civilizations."
- Queen's Quarterly
Arriving in Mexico less than a decade after the Spanish conquest of 1521, the Franciscan missionary Bernardino de Sahagún not only labored to supplant native religion with Christianity, he also gathered voluminous information on virtually every aspect of Aztec (Nahua) life in contact-period Mexico. His pioneering ethnographic work relied on interviews with Nahua elders and the assistance of a younger generation of bicultural, missionary-trained Nahuas. Sahagún's remarkably detailed descriptions of Aztec ceremonial life offer the most extensive account of a non-Western ritual system recorded before modern times.
Representing Aztec Ritual: Performance, Text, and Image in the Work of Sahagún uses Sahagún's corpus as a starting point to focus on ritual performance, a key element in the functioning of the Aztec world. With topics ranging from the ritual use of sand and paper to the sacrifice of women, contributors explore how Aztec rites were represented in the images and texts of documents compiled under colonial rule and the implications of this European filter for our understanding of these ceremonies. Incorporating diverse disciplinary perspectives, contributors include Davíd Carrasco, Philip P. Arnold, Kay Read, H. B. Nicholson, Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Guilhem Olivier, Doris Heyden, and Eloise Quiñones Keber.
How Mexican artists and intellectuals created a new identity for modern Mexico City through its ties to Aztec Tenochtitlan.
After archaeologists rediscovered a corner of the Templo Mayor in 1914, artists, intellectuals, and government officials attempted to revive Tenochtitlan as an instrument for reassessing Mexican national identity in the wake of the Revolution of 1910. What followed was a conceptual excavation of the original Mexica capital in relation to the transforming urban landscape of modern Mexico City.
Revolutionary-era scholars took a renewed interest in sixteenth century maps as they recognized an intersection between Tenochtitlan and the foundation of a Spanish colonial settlement directly over it. Meanwhile, Mexico City developed with modern roads and expanded civic areas as agents of nationalism promoted concepts like indigenismo, the embrace of Indigenous cultural expressions. The promotion of artworks and new architectural projects such as Diego Rivera’s Anahuacalli Museum helped to make real the notion of a modern Tenochtitlan. Employing archival materials, newspaper reports, and art criticism from 1914 to 1964, Resurrecting Tenochtitlan connects art history with urban studies to reveal the construction of a complex physical and cultural layout for Mexico’s modern capital.
Rethinking the Aztec Economy
Edited by Deborah L. Nichols, Frances F. Berdan, and Michael E. Smith University of Arizona Press, 2017 Library of Congress F1219.36.E76R47 2016 | Dewey Decimal 972
With its rich archaeological and historical record, the Aztec empire provides an intriguing opportunity to understand the dynamics and structure of early states and empires. Rethinking the Aztec Economy brings together leading scholars from multiple disciplines to thoroughly synthesize and examine the nature of goods and their movements across rural and urban landscapes in Mesoamerica. In so doing, they provide a new way of understanding society and economy in the Aztec empire.
The volume is divided into three parts. Part 1 synthesizes our current understanding of the Aztec economy and singles out the topics of urbanism and provincial merchant activity for more detailed analysis. Part 2 brings new data and a new conceptual approach that applies insights from behavioral economics to Nahua and Aztec rituals and social objects. Contributors also discuss how high-value luxury goods, such as feather art, provide insights about both economic and sacred concepts of value in Aztec society. Part 3 reexamines the economy at the Aztec periphery. The volume concludes with a synthesis on the scale, integration, and nature of change in the Aztec imperial economy.
Rethinking the Aztec Economy illustrates how superficially different kinds of social contexts were in fact integrated into a single society through the processes of a single economy. Using the world of goods as a crucial entry point, this volume advances scholarly understanding of life in the Aztec world.
Frances F. Berdan
Laura Filloy Nadal
Kenneth G. Hirth
María Olvido Moreno Guzmán
Deborah L. Nichols
Alan R. Sandstrom
Pamela Effrein Sandstrom
Michael E. Smith
Barbara L. Stark
Making a foundational contribution to Mesoamerican studies, this book explores Aztec painted manuscripts and sculptures, as well as indigenous and colonial Spanish texts, to offer the first integrated study of food and ritual in Aztec art.
Aztec painted manuscripts and sculptural works, as well as indigenous and Spanish sixteenth-century texts, were filled with images of foodstuffs and food processing and consumption. Both gods and humans were depicted feasting, and food and eating clearly played a pervasive, integral role in Aztec rituals. Basic foods were transformed into sacred elements within particular rituals, while food in turn gave meaning to the ritual performance.
This pioneering book offers the first integrated study of food and ritual in Aztec art. Elizabeth Morán asserts that while feasting and consumption are often seen as a secondary aspect of ritual performance, a close examination of images of food rites in Aztec ceremonies demonstrates that the presence—or, in some cases, the absence—of food in the rituals gave them significance. She traces the ritual use of food from the beginning of Aztec mythic history through contact with Europeans, demonstrating how food and ritual activity, the everyday and the sacred, blended in ceremonies that ranged from observances of births, marriages, and deaths to sacrificial offerings of human hearts and blood to feed the gods and maintain the cosmic order. Morán also briefly considers continuities in the use of pre-Hispanic foods in the daily life and ritual practices of contemporary Mexico. Bringing together two domains that have previously been studied in isolation, Sacred Consumption promises to be a foundational work in Mesoamerican studies.
Long before Europeans came to America, the Aztecs created a unique culture based on myth and a love of language. Myths and poems were an important part of their culture, and a successful speech by a royal orator was pronounced "a great scattering of jades." A Scattering of Jades is an anthology of the best of Aztec literature, compiled by a noted anthropologist and a skilled translator of Nahuatl. It is a storehouse of myths, narratives, poems, and proverbs—as well as prayers and songs to the Aztec gods that provide insight into how these people's perception of the cosmos drove their military machine. Featuring a translation of the Mexicayotl—a work as important today for Mexico's concept of nationhood and ideology as it was at the time of the Conquest—these selections eloquently depict the everyday life of this ancient people and their unique worldview. A Scattering of Jades is an unsurpassed window on ancient Mesoamerican civilization and an essential companion for anyone studying Aztec history, religion, or culture.
Epitomizing the radiating sun and perpetuating the cycles of life and time, fire was—and continues to be—a central force in the Mesoamerican cosmos. Mesoamericans understood heat and flames as animate forces that signified strength and vitality; the most powerful of individuals were embodied with immense heat. Moreover, fire was transformative: it was a means to destroy offerings as well as to transport offerings to otherworldly places. The importance of heat and flames is evident in a spectrum of ritual practices, ranging from the use of sweat baths to the burning of offerings. Human bodies were among the most valuable resources heated or consumed by fire.
This volume addresses the traditions, circumstances, and practices that involved the burning of bodies and bone, to move toward a better understanding of the ideologies behind these acts. It brings together scholars working across Mesoamerica who approach these dual themes (fire and the body) with different methodologies and interdisciplinary lenses. Each contributor illuminates the deeper levels of Mesoamerican ritual practice in light of these themes, while highlighting what is unique to each of the societies that shared Mesoamerican territories.
Incorporating human sacrifice, flaying, and mock warfare, the pre-Columbian Mexican ceremony known as Ochpaniztli, or “Sweeping,” has long attracted attention. Although among the best known of eighteen annual ceremonies, Ochpaniztli’s significance has nevertheless been poorly understood. Ochpaniztli is known mainly from early colonial illustrated manuscripts produced in cross-cultural collaboration between Spanish missionary-chroniclers and native Mexican informants and artists.
Although scholars typically privilege the manuscripts’ textual descriptions, Sweeping the Way examines the fundamental role of their pictorial elements, which significantly expand the information contained in the texts. DiCesare emphasizes the primacy of the regalia, ritual implements, and adornments of the patron “goddess” as the point of intersection between sacred, cosmic forces and ceremonial celebrants. The associations of these paraphernalia indicate that Ochpaniztli was a period of purification rituals, designed to transform and protect individual and communal bodies alike. Spanish friars were unable to apprehend the complex nature of the festival’s patroness, ultimately fragmenting her identity into categories meeting their expectations, which continues to vex modern investigations.
Taken together, the variety of Ochpaniztli sources offer a useful tool for addressing myriad issues of translation and transformation in pre-Columbian and post-conquest Mexico, as Christian friars and native Mexicans together negotiated a complex body of information about outlawed ritual practices and proscribed sacred entities.
Folio 46r from Codex Telleriano-Remensis was created in the sixteenth century under the supervision of Spanish missionaries in central Mexico. As an artifact of seismic cultural and political shifts, the manuscript painting is a singular document of indigenous response to Spanish conquest. Examining the ways in which the folio's tlacuilo (indigenous painter/writer) creates a pictorial vocabulary, this book embraces the place "outside" history from which this rich document emerged.
Applying contemporary intellectual perspectives, including aspects of gender, modernity, nation, and visual representation itself, José Rabasa reveals new perspectives on colonial order. Folio 46r becomes a metaphor for reading the totality of the codex and for reflecting on the postcolonial theoretical issues now brought to bear on the past. Ambitious and innovative (such as the invention of the concepts of elsewheres and ethnosuicide, and the emphasis on intuition), Tell Me the Story of How I Conquered You embraces the performative force of the native scribe while acknowledging the ineffable traits of 46r—traits that remain untenably foreign to the modern excavator/scholar. Posing provocative questions about the unspoken dialogues between evangelizing friars and their spiritual conquests, this book offers a theoretic-political experiment on the possibility of learning from the tlacuilo ways of seeing the world that dislocate the predominance of the West.
Northeast of modern-day Mexico City stand the remnants of one of the world's largest preindustrial cities, Teotihuacan. Monumental in scale, Teotihuacan is organized along a three-mile-long thoroughfare, the Avenue of the Dead, that leads up to the massive Pyramid of the Moon. Lining the avenue are numerous plazas and temples, which indicate that the city once housed a large population that engaged in complex rituals and ceremonies. Although scholars have studied Teotihuacan for over a century, the precise nature of its religious and political life has remained unclear, in part because no one has yet deciphered the glyphs that may explain much about the city's organization and belief systems.
In this groundbreaking book, Annabeth Headrick analyzes Teotihuacan's art and architecture, in the light of archaeological data and Mesoamerican ethnography, to propose a new model for the city's social and political organization. Challenging the view that Teotihuacan was a peaceful city in which disparate groups united in an ideology of solidarity, Headrick instead identifies three social groups that competed for political power—rulers, kin-based groups led by influential lineage heads, and military orders that each had their own animal insignia. Her findings provide the most complete evidence to date that Teotihuacan had powerful rulers who allied with the military to maintain their authority in the face of challenges by the lineage heads. Headrick's analysis also underscores the importance of warfare in Teotihuacan society and clarifies significant aspects of its ritual life, including shamanism and an annual tree-raising ceremony that commemorated the Mesoamerican creation story.
Texcoco: Prehispanic and Colonial Perspectives presents an in-depth, highly nuanced historical understanding of this major indigenous Mesoamerican city from the conquest through the present. The book argues for the need to revise conclusions of past scholarship on familiar topics, deals with current debates that derive from differences in the way scholars view abundant and diverse iconographic and alphabetic sources, and proposes a new look at Texcocan history and culture from different academic disciplines.
Contributors address some of the most pressing issues in Texcocan studies and bring new ones to light: the role of Texcoco in the Aztec empire, the construction and transformation of Prehispanic history in the colonial period, the continuity and transformation of indigenous culture and politics after the conquest, and the nature and importance of iconographic and alphabetic texts that originated in this city-state, such as the Codex Xolotl, the Mapa Quinatzin, and Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl’s chronicles. Multiple scholarly perspectives and methodological approaches offer alternative paradigms of research and open a needed dialogue among disciplines—social, political, literary, and art history, as well as the history of science.
This comprehensive overview of Prehispanic and colonial Texcoco will be of interest to Mesoamerican scholars in the social sciences and humanities.
Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity brings archaeological evidence into the body of scholarship on “the lord of the smoking mirror,” one of the most important Aztec deities. While iconographic and textual resources from sixteenth-century chroniclers and codices have contributed greatly to the understanding of Aztec religious beliefs and practices, contributors to this volume demonstrate the diverse ways material evidence expands on these traditional sources.
The interlocking complexities of Tezcatlipoca’s nature, multiple roles, and metaphorical attributes illustrate the extent to which his influence penetrated Aztec belief and social action across all levels of late Postclassic central Mexican culture. Tezcatlipoca examines the results of archaeological investigations—objects like obsidian mirrors, gold, bells, public stone monuments, and even a mosaic skull—and reveals new insights into the supreme deity of the Aztec pantheon and his role in Aztec culture.
Based on their enormously complex calendars that recorded cycles of many kinds, the Aztecs and other ancient Mesoamerican civilizations are generally believed to have had a cyclical, rather than linear, conception of time and history. This boldly revisionist book challenges that understanding. Ross Hassig offers convincing evidence that for the Aztecs time was predominantly linear, that it was manipulated by the state as a means of controlling a dispersed tribute empire, and that the Conquest cut off state control and severed the unity of the calendar, leaving only the lesser cycles. From these, he asserts, we have inadequately reconstructed the pre-Columbian calendar and so misunderstood the Aztec conception of time and history. Hassig first presents the traditional explanation of the Aztec calendrical system and its ideological functions and then marshals contrary evidence to argue that the Aztec elite deliberately used calendars and timekeeping to achieve practical political ends. He further traces how the Conquest played out in the temporal realm as Spanish conceptions of time partially displaced the Aztec ones. His findings promise to revolutionize our understanding of how the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican societies conceived of time and history.
Created in Tepechpan, a relatively minor Aztec city in Central Mexico, the Tira de Tepechpan records important events in the city's history from 1298 through 1596. Most of the history is presented pictographically. A line of indigenous year signs runs the length of the Tira, with images above the line depicting events in Tepechpan and images below the line recording events at Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec empire and later the seat of Spanish rule. Written annotations amplify some of the images.
In this volume, which includes color plates of the entire Tira, Lori Boornazian Diel investigates the motives behind the creation and modification of the Tira in the second half of the sixteenth century. She identifies the Tira's different contributors and reconciles their various histories by asking why these painters and annotators, working at different times, recorded the events that they did. Comparing the Tira to other painted histories from Central Mexico, Diel demonstrates that the main goal of the Tira was to establish the antiquity, autonomy, and prestige of Tepechpan among the Central Mexican city-states that vied for power and status in the preconquest and colonial worlds. Offering the unique point of view of a minor city with grand ambitions, this study of the Tira reveals imperial strategy from the grassroots up, showing how a subject city negotiated its position under Aztec and Spanish control.
Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl: The Once and Future Lord of the Toltecs is the most comprehensive survey and discussion of primary documentary sources and relevant archaeological evidence available about the most enigmatic figure of ancient Mesoamerica. Probably no indigenous New World personage has aroused more interest or more controversy than this Lord of Tollan, capital of the Toltec Empire, who was merged with the prominent Feathered Serpent god, Quetzalcoatl. Speculation began soon after the Spanish Conquest brought Europeans in contact with this ambiguous figure, and scholarly inquiry has continued unabated to the present. The extant literature on this famous man/god is enormous and steadily growing.
Professor Nicholson sorts through this wealth of material, classifying, summarizing, and analyzing all known primary accounts of the career of Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, in the Spanish, Nahuatl, and Mayan languages, which Spanish missionaries and Spanish-educated natives recorded after the Conquest. In a new introduction, he updates the original source material presently available to scholars interested in this figure. After careful consideration of the evidence, he concludes that, in spite of the obvious myth surrounding this renowned Toltec priest-ruler, at least some of Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl's recorded life and deeds are drawn from historical fact. Nicholson also contends that the tradition of his expected return probably played a role in the peaceable reception of Cortés by Moctezuma II in Mexico's Tenochtitlan in the fall of 1519.
Including new illustrations and an index, Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl: The Once and Future Lord of the Toltecs constitutes a major contribution to Mesoamerican ethnohistory and archaeology.
In Unseen Art, Claudia Brittenham unravels one of the most puzzling phenomena in Mesoamerican art history: why many of the objects that we view in museums today were once so difficult to see. She examines the importance that ancient Mesoamerican people assigned to the process of making and enlivening the things we now call art, as well as Mesoamerican understandings of sight as an especially godlike and elite power, in order to trace a gradual evolution in the uses of secrecy and concealment, from a communal practice that fostered social memory to a tool of imperial power.
Addressing some of the most charismatic of all Mesoamerican sculptures, such as Olmec buried offerings, Maya lintels, and carvings on the undersides of Aztec sculptures, Brittenham shows that the creation of unseen art has important implications both for understanding status in ancient Mesoamerica and for analyzing art in the present. Spanning nearly three thousand years of the Indigenous art of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize, Unseen Art connects the dots between vision, power, and inequality, providing a critical perspective on our own way of looking.
In this companion volume to History and Mythology of the Aztecs, John Bierhorst provides specialists with a transcription of the Nahuatl text, keyed to the translation, and a linguistic apparatus to help elucidate it. The glossary offers definitions for all unusual usages in the codex, as well as careful treatment of many of the commonest (and most semantically flexible) verbs, adverbs, and particles. Detailed discussions of selected features appear in the Grammatical Notes, which complete the work.