A Monumental Work in the Field of American Linguistics

With a Large, Handsome, Colored Ethnographic Map of Mexico

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474. OROZCO Y BERRA, Manuel. Geografía de las Lenguas y Carta Etnográfica de México Precedidas de un Ensayo de Clasificación de las Mismas Lenguas y de Apuntes para las Inmigraciones de las Tribus por el Lic. Manuel Orozco y Berra. Mexico: Imprenta de J.M. Andrade y F. Escalante, Calle de Tiburcio Num. 19, 1864. [i-vi] viii-xiv, [1-3] 4-392 pp., folding lithograph map with Mexico in full original hand-coloring (see below). 4to (27.5 x 20 cm), contemporary half Mexican brown sheep over boards covered with contemporary rose paper. Spine chipped at ends, one piece loose, heavy shelf wear, corners bumped; text fine except for mild uniform browning; map with very light foxing and a few clean splits, otherwise fine with excellent color retention. Rare in commerce. The last copy in American Book Prices Current was the Sir Thomas Phillipps’ copy in 1986.


Carta etnográfica de México, formada por el Lic. Manuel Orozco y Berra [dedication at lower left] Al Sr. F. José Fernando Ramírez, en testimonio de gratitud y de amistad. Manuel Orozco y Berra. [lower left below neat line] Lit. de Salazar. Neat line to neat line: 51.2 x 72.3 cm; overall sheet size 58.8 x 74.5 cm. Printed on fine, thin paper. Superb map in subject and aesthetics.

     First edition. Palau 204534. Pilling 2859. Porrúa (1949) 8851. Sabin 57641: “This is without question not only the best publication about the geography of Mexican idioms, but also a standard for all books on the geography of languages in general.” Ugarte 271.

     Pilling summarizes the contents as follow: “Primera parte. Ensayo de clasificación de las lenguas de México, pp. 76, contains: Chap. 1. Ojeada sobre la carta etnográfica * * *, pp. 3-8; Chap. 2. Los nahóas.---Diferencia establecida entre el nahóa y el mexicano * * *, pp. 8-15; Chap. 3. Segunda familia, el othomí ó hiā hiū.---Etimologia.---Sus dialectos * * *, pp. 16-18; Chap. 4. Familia huaxteca---maya---quiché.---Los cuextecas.---El huaxteco y sus dialectos * * *, pp. 18-25; Chap. 5. Familia mixteca---Zapoteca.---El mixteco y sus dialectos * * *, pp. 25--29; Chap. 6. El matlaltzinca * * *, pp. 29--31; Chap. 7. Familia ópata---tarahumar---pima.---El ópata.---Sus lenguas hermanas * * *, pp. 32--40; Chap. 8. Familia apache ó yavipai.---El chemegue.---El yuta.---El muca oraive.---El faraon.---El llanero.---El lipan, pp. 40--41; Chap. 9. El séri.---El upanguaima.---El guaima, p. 42; Chap. 10. El guaicura y sus dialectos.---El cochimí y los suyos, pp. 42-43; Chap. 11. Lenguas sin clasificación.---El zoque.---El chiapaneco.---El huave * * *, pp. 43--54; Chap. 12. Tabla general de clasificación, pp. 54--62; Chap. 13. Catálogo general de los nombres de las lenguas de México, pp. 62--66; Chap. 14. Lista alfabética de los nombres de las tribus en México, pp. 67--76. Segunda parte. Apuntes para las inmigraciones de las tribus en México, pp. 77--152, contains: Chap. 5. El calendario en los pueblos de filiación tolteca, etc. pp. 102--108. Tercera parte. Geografía de las lenguas de México, pp. 153--387.”

     Field Auction, May 24, 1875: “This work of the learned Licentiate Don Manuel Orozco is without question not only the best publication about the geography of Mexican idioms, but also a standard for all books on the geography of languages in general. Orozco is the first to show by languages, numerous and hitherto almost unknown, how such a subject must be treated. He classifies them, describes them, determines their geographical distribution, and offers thus to the public a work quite unique. The twelve years which this modest scholar devoted to the composition of his book must have been to him a period of incessant labour and research.”

     Includes linguistic material on the Amerindians of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua, California, and the Apaches. The long article on Apache dialects is given its own separate treatment because of their unique situation as basically unconquerable warriors. According to the author, the article is taken mainly from a 1796 manuscript report by Antonio Cordero, which the author borrowed from the owner, José Fernando Ramírez. This section is a substantial contribution to knowledge about this tribe at the time it was written and was still valuable half a century after it was written.

     About the author, Antochiw (personal communication) remarks: “Orozco y Berra (1816-1881) was the most important writer in Mexico in the 19th century. He was an engineer, who integrated history, engineering, conquest, and cartography. He worked with Maximillian, but was imprisoned by Juárez. He wrote constantly, and made incredible contributions to prehispanic history and the colonial era.”

     For his service to Maximillian, he was imprisoned after the Empire fell but was eventually released to house arrest while he recovered his health. With the good favor of his friends, such as Ramírez y Icazbalceta, he eventually resumed his writing career. On the difficulties of completing this work, he wrote this famous description: “De continuo estaba reducido á una triste alternativa: si tenía pan no tenía tiempo, si sobraba el tiempo carecía de pan. Luchando contra esta terrible contradicción; bregando contra mis sentimientos íntimos por la muerte de mis hijas, proseguí sin embargo, la tarea que me había impuesto, con la tenacidad febril de la desesperación” (p. [vii]. He is best known for his Historia antigua y de la Conquista de Mexico (1881).


Auction 23 Abstracts

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