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Very Rare Tarahumara Linguistic Work, with Allegorical Engraving
Superb Copy in Vellum, Author’s Signed Presentation Copy
534. TELLECHEA, Miguel. Compendio gramatical para la inteligencia del idioma tarahumar oraciones, doctrina cristiana, pláticas, y otras cosas necesarias para la recta administracion de los Santos Sacramentos en el mismo idióma. Dispuesto por el P. Fr. Miguel Tellechea Predicador Missionero Apostólico del Colegio de Nuestra Señora de Gaudalupe [sic] de Zacatecas, Ministro del Pueblo de Chínnipas y Ex-Presidente de los Missiones de la Tarahumara. Mexico: Imprenta de la Federación en Palacio, 1826. , 1-9 [1, blank], 1-63, 63, 64-162 [1, blank], i-vi  pp. (from p. 63 bis to the end, even page numbers are on rectos), pp. 49-154 printed in double columns, unattributed copper-engraved frontispiece plate: Retrato del P. Misionero autor de esta Obra Fr. Miguel Tellechea (portrait of author giving his book to kneeling Tarahumarans holding a shield adorned with the Mexican symbol of an eagle with a snake in its beak perched on a cactus), border to border: 14.4 x 10.2 cm; plate mark: 14.7 x 10.7 cm. 4to (19.8 x 14.5 cm), original vellum, ink title on spine (possibly written at a later date), one original rawhide tie present. Very light old marca de fuego on upper edges. Just about perfect, the plate excellent. Author’s warm, signed inscription to Rafael Sánchez on front free endpaper. Contemporary ink note below imprint: “Del P. Béistegui.” Very rare.
First edition. JCB, Indian Language Database: “Grammar in Spanish with Tarahumara examples; religious texts in Spanish and Tarahumara in double columns. Book 1: ‘Del nombre, promombre, adverbio, y preposicion, primeros rudimentos’ (pp. 6-12); Book 2: ‘De las conjugaciones’ (pp. 13-46); Book 3: prayers and doctrinal texts (pp. 47-59); Book 4: sermons (pp. 60-122), followed by ‘Algunas cosas necesarias para la debida administracion de los Santos Sacramentos’ (pp. 123-155).” Brunet V, col. 692. Eberstadt, Arizona-Sonora 163:86. García Icazbalceta, Apuntes 76. Humboldts sprachwissenschaftliche Bibliothek 415-416. Kislak 508. Ludewig, Literature of American Aboriginal Languages, p. 182. Palau 329425. Pilling 3810. Porrúa Catalogue 5 (1949) 8921. Ramírez Sale 830: “Father Tellechea’s is the best known grammar of the dialect which has been published. The author was missionary apostolic of the College of our Lady of Guadalupe de Zacatecas, and ex-President of the Missions to the Tarahumara in Northern Mexico.” Sabin 9461.
At the time of the Spanish Conquest the Tarahumara were inhabitants of Chihuahua, but retreated to the Copper Canyon area in the Sierra Madre Occidental in the sixteenth century. That area is now named after them. The first missionaries to make contact were the Jesuits who arrived in 1600. After establishing a foothold, the Jesuits expanded their efforts to the north and eventually founded several pueblos, often with hundreds of families associated with them. This phase ended, however, in 1767 with the expulsion of the Jesuit Order. The Jesuits were immediately followed by the Franciscans, who were sent to the area by Viceroy Marqués de Croix. The Franciscans also established several pueblos, many composed of several tribes.
The Tarahumara (Rarámuri, “runners on foot” or “those who run fast”) are known for their abilities as runners, and part of the tribe still pursues their traditional life style, sometimes inhabiting caves and cliff dwellings and maintaining their tradition of transhumance. In many ways, they were never entirely Christianized, and to this day, their religion is a mixture of Roman Catholicism and traditional beliefs. For example, some members of the tribe worship peyote, a long-standing tradition (references to peyote are on pp. 67 & 76; J.S. Slotkin, “Peyotism, 1521-1891” in American Anthropologist 57:2).
This book presents a number of religious formulas, such as sermons and a catechism intended for missionary use in the work of conversion. Although the Tarahumara language is related to other linguistic families in the area (such as Pimi, Yaqui, etc.), it is sufficiently unique that it could be treated in its own separate work, of which this is the second study (the first was by Ivan Ratkaj, 1647–1683). See Ivan Rattkay, Izvješća iz Tarahumare: Izvješća iz Meksika misionara, putopisca i istraživača Ivana Rattkaya, 1647-1683 (Zagreb: Artresor naklada, 1998).
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