First Publication of Fifteenth-Century Migration Maps of the Chichimeca

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16. AUBIN, [Joseph Marius Alexis]. [Wrapper title] Mémoires sur la peinture didactique et l’écriture figurative des anciens mexicains...précédés d’une introduction par E.T. Hamy.... [Main title page] Recherches historiques et archéologiques.... Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1885. Series: Mission scientifique au Mexique et dans l’Amérique Centrale...Recherches historiques, Première Partie. Première Livraison. [6], [i] ii-xi [1, blank], [1] 2-106 pp. (lexicon of glyphs illustrated in text), 5 chromolithograph plates (codex illustrations of maps with glosses in Nahuatl, written after the Conquest). Folio (36 x 28.5 cm), original grey printed wrappers bound in new brown French morocco over marbled boards, t.e.g. Author’s signed presentation copy to M.L. Gautier, a member of the Institute. Wrappers stained and neatly backed (consolidating tears and several voids). Other than scattered light foxing to text, fine, plates clean and bright. Very rare in commerce.

     First illustrated edition (first published in Paris, 1849, without illustrations of the maps). Glass, p. 550: “Complete reprint of Aubin, 1849, with slight revisions by the author and with added color lithographs by B. Schmidt of Mapas Tlotzin and Quinatzin”; #263 (Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts, noting first and second leaves): “Historical Texcoco, Mexico, ca. 1542-1548, Native paper tira folded to form two leaves... Leaf 1 of the manuscripts depicts historical events in the time of Quinatzin and Techotlalatzin. Leaf 2 depicts the palace of Nezhualcoyotl with various details, including a partially effaced series of place glyphs of towns subject to Texcoco and their rulers as of some date in the latter half of the 15th century”; #356 (Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts); “l6th-century, before 1550), skin tira...the document treats the establishment of the Chichimecas of Xolotl in the eastern Valley of Mexico in the time of Nopaltzin and Tlotzin”; (Testerian Manuscripts) #805 (noting the pictorial catechism Aubin located in the “bibliothèque métropolitaine” of Mexico, but now unknown). Palau 19457 (citing the 1849 edition and mentioning this edition). Pilling 182a (citing 1849 edition with note “*not seen. Title from Bancroft’s Native Races, vol. 1, p. xviii”).

     Aubin was the first to publish these manuscripts relating to the migration of the Chichimeca from the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico to the region around the lagoon that is now Mexico City. There they became the dominant people in the region—the Nahua. The term Chichimeca was originally used by the Nahua to describe their prehistory as a nomadic hunter-gatherer people. “The Mapa Tlotzin and the Mapa Quinatzin were utilized by the historian Ixtlilxochitl for his famous Historia Chichimeca and his Relaciones and we are thus in a position, in this particular instance, to control one of the most important of the secondary sources for early Mexican history and to form some idea of the manner in which a man living but a short time after the Conquest was able to interpret the old manuscripts and what information he was still able to obtain from original sources known to him and from the oral information of the Indians” (Paul Radin in “The Sources and Authenticity of the History of the Ancient Mexicans” in University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 17, No. 1, June 29, 1920, pp. 1-150). Radin dismissed as “rather far-fetched” Aubin’s theory that the maps of Tlotzin and Quinatzin were used for pedagogical purposes for instruction in Texcoco.

     The Mapa Tlotzin and the Mapa Quinatzin combine cartographic elements with time, space, and history to depict migration of the Chichimeca to the Valley of Mexico. Basing his analysis on Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotype, Federico Navarrete states: “Although...the Quinatzin and Tlotzin maps are organized around depictions of space, they are not necessarily maps, according to our definition (synchronic, isometric, emphasizing topography and human settlements), because they include depictions of time” (“The Path from Aztlan to Mexico: On Visual Narration in Mesoamerican Codices” in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 3, Spring 2000: p. 44).

     Susan Spitler interprets the Mapa Tlotzin as a document as much political as historical (see “The Mapa Tlotzin: Preconquest History in Colonial Texcoco” in Journal de la Société des Americanistes, 1998, 84:2, p. 71):

The Mapa Tlotzin, although painted in the first half of the sixteenth century, appears to concern itself solely with the Preconquest past, and as such traditionally has been consulted by scholars interested in the Late Postclassic Valley of Mexico. While the manuscript may be framed in terms of the Preconquest past, however, it in fact offers a great deal of information on Colonial Texcoco. When we evaluate this manuscript anew, bolstered by recent scholarship that demonstrates the continuity of native society, culture, and political struggles into the sixteenth century, we gain a new understanding of the manuscript and its intent. The painter of the Mapa Tlotzin manipulates the representation of Texcoco as the eternal political, social, and cultural center of the Acolhua region of the Valley of Mexico.


Sold. Hammer: $800.00; Price Realized: $980.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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