Petite Catechism in Nahuatl

Very Rare, Uncut & Unfolded Sheet in Pre-Publication Format

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71. [CASTAÑO, Bartolomé]. CATHOLIC CHURCH. CATECHISM. [Caption title] Doctrina Pequeña en Mexicano. Tepiton Teotlatolli. [Colophon] Mexico: Imprenta del ciudadano Alejandro Valdéz, 1831. 15 [1, blank] pp. in Nahuatl, uncut sheet of unwatermarked, untrimmed laid paper (40.5 x 33 cm). Two printings of the same setting of type on a full sheet, printed on both sides and meant to be divided and folded in half sheets (size of folded sheets would be approximately 10 x 6.5 cm). Horizontal fold with a few minor holes (well away from text), overall a very fine copy of an extremely rare survival.

     First edition. Bibliografía Mesoamericana, p. 94. Bulletin of the New York Public Library (1909), “List of Works relating to Mexico”, p. 818. León Portilla, Tepuztlahcuilolli 890: “Un curioso librito” (see also 585, 586 & 2286). Palau 74740. Pilling 1056: “Not seen. Title communicated by Sr. [Joaquín] Icazbalceta.” Sabin 20420.

This unusual imprint in its earliest pre-publication format contains questions and answers about the Trinity and other Church mysteries written in Nahuatl, the Aztec language spoken throughout central Mexico before the Spanish conquest. The catechism was originally written in Spanish by Bartolomé Castaño (1601-1672?) and frequently translated into various Native languages, as is the case here. Although it is sometimes stated that the present work is a translation that appeared in Ripalda’s 1758 Catecismo mexicano (Medina, Hispano-Americana 4500), that is not the case (see Ripalda herein). Castaño, a native of Portugal, spent years in the Jesuit missions of Sinaloa and Sonora ministering to the Opate and other tribes. Although overshadowed by Kino, Castaño was important in his own right, founding the present-day city of Sonora and other locales in the region (see Rafael Pérez-Taylor et al, Materiales para la historia de Sonora, Mexico: UNAM, 2007, p. 22). Castaño used the unusual method of music to interest his converts and spoke six Native languages.


Sold. Hammer: $1,400.00; Price Realized: $1,715.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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