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.
Nahuatl-speaking women and men left last wills in their own tongue during an era when the written tradition of their language was generally assumed to have ended. Describing their world in testaments clustered around epidemic cycles, they responded to profound changes in population, land use, and local governance with astonishing vibrancy.
The Aztecs at Independence offers the first internal ethnographic view of these central Mexican indigenous communities in the critical transitional time of Independence. Miriam Melton-Villanueva uses previously unknown Nahuatl-language sources—primarily last wills and testaments—to provide a comprehensive understanding of indigenous societies during the transition from colonial to postcolonial times. The book describes the cultural life of people now called Nahuas or Mexicas in the nineteenth century—based on their own words, their own written records. The book uses previously unknown, unstudied, and untranslated indigenous texts to bring Nahua society into history, fleshing out glimpses of daily life in the early nineteenth century. Thus, The Aztecs at Independence describes life at the most local level: Nahua lineages of ritual and writing, guilds and societies, the people that take turns administering festivals and attending to the last wishes of the dying.
Interwoven with personal stories and memory, The Aztecs at Independence invites a general audience along on a scholarly journey, where readers are asked to imagine Nahua concepts and their contemporary meanings that give light to modern problems.
In the rural areas of south-central Mexico, there are believed to be witches who transform themselves into animals in order to suck the blood from the necks of sleeping infants. This book analyzes beliefs held by the great majority of the population of rural Tlaxcala a generation ago and chronicles its drastic transformation since then.
"The most comprehensive statement on this centrally important ethnographic phenomenon in the last forty years. It bears ready comparison with the two great classics, Evans-Pritchard's Witchcraft Among the Azande and Clyde Kluckhohn's Navaho Witchcraft."—Henry H. Selby
Dialogue with Europe, Dialogue with the Past is a critical, annotated anthology of indigenous-authored texts, including the Nahua, Quechua, and Spanish originals, through which native peoples and Spaniards were able to convey their own perspectives on Spanish colonial order. It is the first volume to bring together native testimonies from two different areas of Spanish expansion in the Americas to examine comparatively these geographically and culturally distant realities of indigenous elites in the colonial period.
In each chapter a particular document is transcribed exactly as it appears in the original manuscript or colonial printed document, with the editor placing it in historical context and considering the degree of European influence. These texts show the nobility through documents they themselves produced or caused to be produced—such as wills, land deeds, and petitions—and prioritize indigenous ways of expression, perspectives, and concepts. Together, the chapters demonstrate that native elites were independent actors as well as agents of social change and indigenous sustainability in colonial society. Additionally, the volume diversifies the commonly homogenous term “cacique” and recognizes the differences in elites throughout Mesoamerica and the Andes.
Showcasing important and varied colonial genres of indigenous writing, Dialogue with Europe, Dialogue with the Past reveals some of the realities, needs, strategies, behaviors, and attitudes associated with the lives of the elites. Each document and its accompanying commentary provide additional insight into how the nobility negotiated everyday life. The book will be of great interest to students and researchers of Mesoamerican and Andean history, as well as those interested in indigenous colonial societies in the Spanish Empire.
Contributors: Agnieszka Brylak, Maria Castañeda de la Paz, Katarzyna Granicka, Gregory Haimovich, Anastasia Kalyuta, Julia Madajczak, Patrycja Prządka-Giersz
Ethnicity has long been a central concern of Mesoamerican ethnography, but for methodological reasons has received less attention in the archaeological, historical, and art historical literature. Using the disciplines of archaeology, art history, ethnohistory, and ethnography, Ethnic Identity in Nahua Mesoamerica provides a unique interdisciplinary treatment of Nahua identity in central Mexico — beginning with pre-Columbian times and proceeding through the Aztec empire, the colonial era, and the ethnographic present.
This book is the first to analyze ethnicity in a single place over a span that covers prehistory, colonial history, and contemporary life. The authors bring to their various case studies data, methodologies, and concepts of their respective fields to show how Nahuan concepts of ethnic identity are not based on the notion of shared descent but rather on conceptions of shared place of origin and common history.
Prior to the Spanish conquest, the Nahua indigenous peoples of central Mexico did not have a notion of “sex” or “sexuality” equivalent to the sexual categories developed by colonial society or those promoted by modern Western peoples. In this innovative ethnohistory, Pete Sigal seeks to shed new light on Nahua concepts of the sexual without relying on the modern Western concept of sexuality. Along with clerical documents and other Spanish sources, he interprets the many texts produced by the Nahua. While colonial clerics worked to impose Catholic beliefs—particularly those equating sexuality and sin—on the indigenous people they encountered, the process of cultural assimilation was slower and less consistent than scholars have assumed. Sigal argues that modern researchers of sexuality have exaggerated the power of the Catholic sacrament of confession to change the ways that individuals understood themselves and their behaviors. At least until the mid-seventeenth century, when increased contact with the Spanish began to significantly change Nahua culture and society, indigenous peoples, particularly commoners, related their sexual lives and imaginations not just to concepts of sin and redemption but also to pleasure, seduction, and rituals of fertility and warfare.
While King Carlos I of Spain struggled to suppress the Protestant Reformation in the Old World, the Spanish turned to New Spain to promote the Catholic cause, unimpeded by the presence of the “false” Old World religions. To this end, Osowski writes, the Spanish “saw indigenous people as necessary protagonists in the anticipated triumph of the faith.” As the conversion of the indigenous people of Mexico proceeded in earnest, Catholic ritual became the medium through which indigenous leaders and Spaniards negotiated colonial hegemony.
Indigenous Miracles is about how the Nahua elite of central Mexico secured political legitimacy through the administration of public rituals centered on miraculous images of Christ the King. Osowski argues that these images were adopted as community symbols and furthermore allowed Nahua leaders to “represent their own kingship,” protecting their claims to legitimacy. This legitimacy allowed them to act collectively to prevent the loss of many aspects of their culture. Osowski demonstrates how a shared religion admitted the possibility of indigenous agency and new ethnic identities.
Consulting both Nahuatl and Spanish sources, Osowski strives to fill a gap in the history of the Nahuas from 1760 to 1810, a momentous time when previously sanctioned religious practices were condemned by the viceroys and archbishops of the Bourbon royal dynasty. His approach synthesizes ethnohistory and institutional history to create a fascinating account of how and why the Nahuas protected the practices and symbols they had appropriated under Hapsburg rule. Ultimately, Osowski’s account contributes to our understanding of the ways in which indigenous agency was negotiated in colonial Mexico.
In the 1980s, a few traditional saltmakers were still manufacturing several kinds of salt in the eastern Valley of Mexico. This in-depth study of the methodology of this dying craft includes a comparative study of pre-industrial saltmaking around the world and considers the implications of this knowledge for future archaeological research.
They were the healers, teachers, and writers, the “wise ones” of Nahuatl-speaking cultures in Mexico, remembered in painted codices and early colonial manuscripts of Mesoamerica as the guardians of knowledge. Yet they very often seem bound to an unrecoverable past, as stereotypes prevent some from linking the words “indigenous” and “intellectual” together.
Not so, according to author Kelly S. McDonough, at least not for native speakers of Nahuatl, one of the most widely spoken and best-documented indigenous languages of the Americas. This book focuses on how Nahuas have been deeply engaged with the written word ever since the introduction of the Roman alphabet in the early sixteenth century. Dipping into distinct time periods of the past five hundred years, this broad perspective allows McDonough to show the heterogeneity of Nahua knowledge and writing as Nahuas took up the pen as agents of their own discourses and agendas.
McDonough worked collaboratively with contemporary Nahua researchers and students, reconnecting the theorization of a population with the population itself. The Learned Ones describes the experience of reading historic text with native speakers today, some encountering Nahua intellectuals and their writing for the very first time. It intertwines the written word with oral traditions and embodied knowledge, aiming to retie the strand of alphabetic writing to the dynamic trajectory of Nahua intellectual work.
This intriguing work explores the world of three amate artists. A native tradition, all of their painting is done in Mexico, yet, the finished product is sold almost exclusively to wealthy American art buyers.
Cowen examines this cultural interaction between Mexico and the United States to see how globalization shapes the lives and the work of the artists and their families. The story of these three artists reveals that this exchange simultaneously creates economic opportunities for the artists, but has detrimental effects on the village.
A view of the daily village life of three artists connected to the larger art world, this book should be of particular interest to those in the fields of cultural economics, Latino studies, economic anthropology and globalization.
"Pardo's study provides a persuasive criticism of the widespread assumption that the process of Christianization in Mexico can be conceived as the imposition of a complete and fool-proof system that did not accept doubts or compromises. The Origins of Mexican Catholicism will become an invaluable tool for future researchers and enrich future debates on the subject."
---Fernando Cervantes, Bristol University, UK
"Pardo does an excellent job of balancing and contrasting sixteenth-century Catholic theology with Nahua thought and belief."
---John F. Schwaller, University of Minnesota
At first glance, religious conversion may appear to be only a one-way street. When studying sixteenth-century Mexico, one might assume that colonial coercion was the driving force behind the religious conversion of the native population. But The Origins of Mexican Catholicism shows how Spanish missionaries instead drew on existing native ceremonies in order to make Christianity more accessible to the Nahua population whom they were trying to convert.
Osvaldo F. Pardo explains that religious figures not only shaped native thought, but that indigenous rituals had an impact on the religion itself. This work illustrates the complex negotiations that took place in the process of making the Christian sacraments available to the native peoples, and at the same time, forced the missionaries to reexamine the meaning of their sacraments through the eyes of an alien culture.
For Spanish missionaries, ritual not only became a focus of evangelical concern but also opened a window to the social world of the Nahuas. Missionaries were able to delve into the Nahua's notions of self, emotions, and social and cosmic order. By better understanding the sociological aspects of Nahua culture, Christians learned ways to adequately convey their religion through mutual understanding instead of merely colonial oppression.
Given its interdisciplinary approach, this book will be of interest to specialists in Latin American intellectual and literary history, the history of religion, and anthropology, and to anyone interested in cross-cultural processes.
The Rain Gods’ Rebellion examines Nahua oral narratives to illuminate the cultural basis of the 1977–1984 rebellion against the local Hispanic elite in Huitzilan de Serdán, Mexico. Drawing from forty years of fieldwork in the region, James M. Taggart traces the sociopolitical role of Nahua rain gods—who took both human and divine forms—back hundreds of years and sheds new light on the connections between social experiences and the Nahua understanding of water and weather in stories. As Taggart shows, Nahua tales of the rain gods’ rebellion anticipated the actual 1977 land invasion in Huitzilan, in which some 200–300 Nahua were killed.
The Rain Gods’ Rebellion reveals how local culture evolves from the expression of unrest to organized insurgency and then into collective memory. Taggart records a tradition of storytelling in which Nahuas radicalized themselves through recounting the rain gods’ stories—stories of the gods organizing and striking with bolts of lightning the companion spirits of autocratic local leaders who worked closely with mestizos. The tales are part of a tradition of resisting the friars’ efforts to convert the Nahuas, Totonacs, Otomi, and Tepehua to Christianity and inspiring nativistic movements against invading settlers.
Providing a rare longitudinal look at the cultural basis of this grassroots insurgency, The Rain Gods’ Rebellion offers rare insight into the significance of oral history in forming Nahua collective memory and, by extension, culture. It will be of significance to scholars of Indigenous studies, anthropology, oral history, and violence studies, as well as linguistic anthropologists and sociolinguists.
In volume 24 of the Arrington Lecture Series, Darius Gray, who joined the LDS Church in 1964, marks the history of the years that preceded the leadership of the LDS Church’s revelation allowing all worthy male members, regardless of race, to receive the priesthood. Gray has spoken extensively during the anniversary year about his experiences as a member of the church, both before and after that historic announcement in 1978.
The Arrington Lecture series, established by one of the twentieth-century West's most distinguished historians, Leonard Arrington, has become a leading forum for prominent historians to address topics related to Mormon history. Utah State University hosts the Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series through the Merrill-Cazier Library Special Collections and Archives department.
In The Search for the Codex Cardona, Arnold J. Bauer tells the story of his experiences on the trail of a cultural treasure, a Mexican “painted book” that first came into public view at Sotheby’s auction house in London in 1982, nearly four hundred years after it was presumably made by Mexican artists and scribes. On folios of amate paper, the Codex includes two oversized maps and 300 painted illustrations accompanied by text in sixteenth-century paleography. The Codex relates the trajectory of the Nahua people to the founding of the capital of Tenochtitlán and then focuses on the consequences of the Spanish conquest up to the 1550s. If authentic, the Codex Cardona is an invaluable record of early Mexico. Yet there is no clear evidence of its origin, what happened to it after 1560, or even where it is today, after its last known appearance at Christie’s auction house in New York in 1998.
Bauer first saw the Codex Cardona in 1985 in the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, where scholars from Stanford and the University of California were attempting to establish its authenticity. Allowed to gently lift a few pages of this ancient treasure, Bauer was hooked. By 1986, the Codex had again disappeared from public view. Bauer’s curiosity about the Codex and its whereabouts led him down many forking paths—from California to Seville and Mexico City, to the Firestone Library in Princeton, to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and Christie’s in New York—and it brought him in contact with an international cast of curators, agents, charlatans, and erudite book dealers. The Search for the Codex Cardona is a mystery that touches on issues of cultural patrimony, the workings of the rare books and manuscripts trade, the uncertainty of archives and evidence, and the ephemerality of the past and its remains.
The Mexican Revolution gave rise to the Mexican nation-state as we know it today. Rural revolutionaries took up arms against the Díaz dictatorship in support of agrarian reform, in defense of their political autonomy, or inspired by a nationalist desire to forge a new Mexico. However, in the Gran Nayar, a rugged expanse of mountains and canyons, the story was more complex, as the region’s four Indigenous peoples fought both for and against the revolution and the radical changes it bought to their homeland.
To make sense of this complex history, Nathaniel Morris offers the first systematic understanding of the participation of the Náayari, Wixárika, O’dam, and Mexicanero peoples in the Mexican Revolution. They are known for being among the least “assimilated” of all Mexico’s Indigenous peoples. It’s often been assumed that they were stuck up in their mountain homeland—“the Gran Nayar”—with no knowledge of the uprisings, civil wars, military coups, and political upheaval that convulsed the rest of Mexico between 1910 and 1940.
Based on extensive archival research and years of fieldwork in the rugged and remote Gran Nayar, Morris shows that the Náayari, Wixárika, O’dam, and Mexicanero peoples were actively involved in the armed phase of the revolution. This participation led to serious clashes between an expansionist, “rationalist” revolutionary state and the highly autonomous communities and heterodox cultural and religious practices of the Gran Nayar’s inhabitants. Morris documents confrontations between practitioners of subsistence agriculture and promoters of capitalist development, between rival Indian generations and political factions, and between opposing visions of the world, of religion, and of daily life. These clashes produced some of the most severe defeats that the government’s state-building programs suffered during the entire revolutionary era, with significant and often counterintuitive consequences both for local people and for the Mexican nation as a whole.
The first English translation of Guy Stresser-Péan's tour-de-force presents two decades of fieldwork in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico, where native pre-Hispanic pagan beliefs blended with traditional Catholic evangelization from the sixteenth century and the more recent intrusion of modernism.
The Indians of the Sierra Norte de Puebla are deeply devoted to Christianity, but their devotion is seamlessly combined with pagan customs, resulting in a hybrid belief system that is not wholly indigenous, yet not wholly Christian. The syncretism practiced here has led the Totonac and Nahua people to identify Christ with the Sun God, a belief expressed symbolically in ritual practices such as the Dance of the Voladores.
Spanning the four centuries from the earliest systematic campaign against Nahua ritual practices - Zumárraga's idolatry trials of 1536-1540 - to the twentieth century, Stresser-Péan contextualizes Nahua and Totonac ritual practices as a series of responses to Christian evangelization and the social reproduction of traditional ritual practices. The Sun God and the Savior is a monumental work on the ethnographic and historical knowledge of the peoples of the Sierra Norte.