Rare Mixteco Catechism

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

81. CATHOLIC CHURCH. CATECHISM. [First title page] Catecismo en idioma Mixteco, segun se habla en los curatos de la Misteca Baja, que pertenecen al obispado de Puebla, formado nuevamente de oren [sic] del Exmo. e Ilmo. Sr. Obispo Dr. D. Francisco Pablo Vasquez. E impreso a sus espensas, por un Comisión de Curas. Puebla: Imprenta del Hospital de San Pedro, 1837. [Second title page] Catecismo en el idioma Mixteco, Montañez, para el uso de los curatos que van señalados en la lista que se inserta. Formado de oren [sic] del Exmo. e Illmo. Sr. Obispo de la Puebla Dr. D. Francisco Pablo Vasquez. Traducido al Castellano, por una comision unida de curas de la Misteca Baja y Montañez. Puebla: Imprenta del Hospital de San Pedro, 1837. [Third title page] Manual en lengua Mixteca de ambos dialectos Bajo y Montañez, para los curatos de la sagrada mitra de Puebla en los que se habla este idioma. Formado por una comision de curas de orden de su Excelencia Illma. el Sr. D.D. Francisco Pablo Vasquez. Dignisimo obispo de esta diocesis. Puebla: Imprenta del Hospital de San Pedro, 1837. [14] 1-21 [1, blank] + [4], 1-20 + [1-2] 3-75, [2] pp. (mostly printed in double and triple columns). 8vo (20 x 14 cm), unbound, stitching perished. First title page and final page somewhat chipped and stained (no losses to text), small repair to pp. 3-4 of third part, but otherwise a very good copy. With former owner’s blindstamp on first title page.

     Second edition of three works issued together and usually considered as a single publication. According to a note on p. [13] of the first part, the first edition of this work was in 1834; no copies of it are known, however. Of the copies of the present edition listed on OCLC, many of them are microforms, ghosts, or records for only part of the publication. A note on the last page of the second work remarks that the third work will be issued separately for the sake of convenience. Palau 50220. Pilling 676, 677 & 678. Sabin 49770 & 49771. Ugarte 97, 98 & 99. “These three works, although printed separately, form in reality but one, as is shown by the prologue of the first, and from the table of errata which is common to the three. The authors promise an Arte and Vocabulario which I think has not been published. Mention is made in this work of another Catecismo Mixteco printed in 1834 by order of the same bishop. I have not seen it.—Icazbalceta” (quoted in Pilling). According to the statement, the 1834 edition was riddled with errors.

     Francisco Pablo Vázquez y Sánchez Vizcaíno (1769-1847), the moving force behind these publications, became archbishop of Puebla after a distinguished diplomatic stint representing newly independent Mexico to the Holy See. In his diocese were still thousands of people who spoke Mixteco, even hundreds of years after the Conquest, thereby necessitating the publication of catechisms in their native language. As recently as the turn of the century, nearly 500,000 native speakers remained. An extremely rare example of a type of text that had been a necessity since the first priests set foot in Mexico.

     The Mixtec (or Mixteca) are indigenous Mesoamerican peoples living in Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Puebla in a region named La Mixteca. At the present time large communities of Mixtecans exist in the the border cities of Tijuana, Baja California, San Diego, and Tucson. The Mixtecan languages form an important branch of the Otomanguean language group. The term Mixtec comes from the Nahuatl word mixtecah, “cloud people.” The Mixtec are well-known in the anthropological world for their pictorial codices in which they wrote their history and genealogies on deerskin in screenfold format.

     Regrettably, the Mixtec language appears to be diminishing. “Continuing to experience and perceive discrimination, many Mixtec language speakers are employing silence as a social strategy, in which Mixtecs forego using, teaching, and learning the Mixtec language in order to create distance between themselves (or children) and stigmatized practices, such as indigenous language use. The use of silence as a strategy does not signify that Mixtecs devalue or find no meaning in the Mixtec language. Rather, it suggests that silence is perceived to be an available and increasingly attractive social strategy in contemporary contexts”—Elizabeth Perry, “The Declining Use of the Mixtec Language Among Oaxacan Migrants and Stay-at-Homes: The Persistence of Memory, Discrimination, and Social Hierarchies of Power” (from the abstract for Working Paper 180, The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego, July, 2009).


Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $918.75.

Auction 23 Abstracts

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

DSRB Home | e-mail: