Lienzos Today

Here are some images that help us appreciate the meaning of colonial pictorial manuscripts in indigenous communities today.

NAHUA COMMUNITIES.  The Mapa de Cuauhtlantzinco (also called the Códice de Cuauhtlantzinco) is being studied today by a descendant of two of the four caciques who are featured in the pictorial, which appears to be something like scenes for a play about the Spanish conquest. This community is located in the modern state of Puebla, Mexico.  Alberto Sarmiento Tepoxtecatl visited the University of Oregon in 2013 to take a close look at this copy of the pictorial, which is held in the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Alberto Sarmiento Tepoxtecatl by one of several reproductions of the pictorial manuscript from his town (with texts in Nahuatl). (Photo, S. Wood)

ZAPOTEC COMMUNITIES. In San Agustín Etla, state of Oaxaca, we see a small square near one of the churches, and a gazebo where someone has recreated an image of the community in tiles. Imbedded in this scene is a reproduction of what appears to be a lienzo or indigenous-authored pictorial from colonial times.

Gazebo in San Agustín Etla (photo, S. Wood)

Reproduction of the colonial mapa or lienzo of the community that appears on the gazebo. (photo, S. Wood)

Bety Cruz, a graduate student of renowned Oaxacan ethnohistorian Angeles Romero Frizzi, one day took us to the Zapoteca community of Guelaxé to investigate what we could learn about a late seventeenth-century map of the town. (images forthcoming)

MIXTEC COMMUNITIES. The sixteenth-century codex or Mapa de Teozacoalco, relating to a Mixtec community in what is now the state of Oaxaca, is currently held in the Benson Library of the University of Texas at Austin.  A reproduction of the Teozacoalco pictorial currently appears on the ceiling of the student dining hall at the Universidad La Salle, just outside Oaxaca city.

Classroom, La Salle (photo, S. Wood)

Detail, Mapa de Teozacoalco (photo, S. Wood)

The Mixtec community of Zacatepec has two lienzos that have been restored in the manuscript restoration workshop in the Burgoa Library in Oaxaca city.

Restored lienzos in the Burgoa (photo from a display at the Córdova library, 2013).

Click on these images to see them magnified.

Reproductions of the two lienzos of Zacatepec on display behind glass.  Sorry for the reflections!   (From a display at the Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova.) (Photo, S. Wood, 2013)

The elders of Zacatepec (from a display at the Córdova library (Photo, S. Wood, Nov. 2013)

One dates from 1557, and the other from about fifty years later. The earlier one was made at the time of a wedding between the heir and future king, and describes the governing lineage from about 1120 forward. It also shows the territorial dimensions of the dominion as it existed into the early years of the Spanish colonial period. It’s style shows a remarkable continuity of writing and pictorial styles from pre-Columbian times into the period of contact and colonization.  The second one no longer uses Mixtec writing forms.

Altar in the community with the restored lienzos in protective boxes provided by the Burgoa Library (photo from a display in the Córdova Library, 2013).

In recent times, researchers from the Córdova library collaborated with people from the community to do a survey of places mentioned in the lienzos.  Some of the collaborators got to make a trip to New Brunswick to show a reproduction of the lienzos to people from Zacatepec who now live in the U.S.  They also visited Rutgers University.

New Brunswick showing of one of the lienzos in reproduction. (Photo from an exhibit at the Córdova library, 2013.)

Community people also developed a theatrical piece relating to the lienzos, which they performed in the Córdova.

Theatrical piece relating to the lienzos (photo from a display at the Córdova library, 2013).

Another scene from the play (a photo from a display in the Córdova library, 2013)