Mar 10, 2020 - Sale 2533

Sale 2533 - Lot 332

Price Realized: $ 5,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(MEXICAN MANUSCRIPTS.) Map of a piece of indigenous chinampa farmland, with accompanying will. 2 manuscript pages, 12 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches, plus integral blank, and a separate map of the same size; stitch holes, only minor wear to manuscript, map quite worn with full separation and substantial loss along center horizontal fold. Mexico, March 1666 (1703 translation)

Additional Details

The last will and testament in Spanish of an indigenous woman, Verónica Juana, bequeathing her property in Tlalcocomulco, Mexico City, to her husband and a local church. The property includes several chinampas--artificial islands on which crops are grown, characteristic of Mesoamerican agriculture.
This is a Spanish translation of a Nahuatl original (not included), with several authorities later affirming the accuracy of the translation on 15 February 1703. Most notably, one of the signatures reads "Fr Aug'n de Vetancurt," who would seem to be Agustín de Vetancurt, a famous friar and scholar of Nahuatl. Either Vetancurt's generally accepted 1700 death date is incorrect, or there was another Vetancurt involved in Nahuatl translation just three years later.
The map is painted in an unmistakably traditional style, employing preconquest glyphs and artistic conventions. Depicting the chinampas and surrounding water of Mexico City's (now drained) canals as alternating bands of brown and blue, two of the buildings on Verónica's estate appear as Mesoamerican glyphs for houses. Another indigenous glyph, feet (symbolizing movement or paths) borders the property. As the feet are broken off at the edges of the folio or otherwise appear to have continued beyond, this may only be part of the original map. This is further suggested by the fact that the text describes Verónica's property as consisting of more than just the two houses shown here. Nevertheless, this map bears a strong resemblance to the pictographic maps included with indigenous documents relating to land ownership in the sixteenth century. Perhaps the artist, who left his rubric on verso, was artificially imitating this bygone style, or these conventions were still in use in the artist's place and time.