Mar 10, 2020 - Sale 2533

Sale 2533 - Lot 329

Price Realized: $ 1,875
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(MEXICAN MANUSCRIPTS.) Indian lawsuit in Nahuatl and Spanish against a landowner over land and water rights. 9 manuscript leaves, 12 1/4 x 8 1/2 inches, plus 2 later docket slips, stitched; minor wear; uncut. Tehuacán, Puebla, 1617-26

Additional Details

The Nahuatl-speaking Indians of Coculco had a contentious and litigious relationship with land-hungry outsiders in neighboring Tehuacán (today in the state of Puebla), a problem faced by many Indians from the middle of the colonial period onward. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the indigenous population of Mexico, though still sizable, had reached an all-time low. The non-Indian, mainly Spanish population, however, was increasing, and with their numbers grew their desire for land and water. As this lawsuit against the landowner Antonio de Padilla records, the owner of the land immediately before Padilla had in fact settled out of court with the indigenous townspeople for the sum of 100 pesos and an agreement to cede some of his land to them. Padilla, however, did not respect the agreements made by his predecessor and continued to plant on land that the Indians alleged was always theirs. He also deforested the area. Even worse, he appropriated their precious water sources, including an irrigation canal which had been created with great difficulty. Three officials from the indigenous towns brought a lawsuit against him in 1624. The impressive testimony gathered by the plaintiffs, in both Spanish and Nahuatl, swayed the Contador of Tehuacán who presided as judge in favor of the afflicted Indians. Enforcing the decision was not easy, however. According to the final pages, Padilla initially ignored the outcome of the suit, even sending his servant to assault and "rip the hairs from the beard" of an official sent to inform him of the decision.