Apr 16, 2019 - Sale 2505

Sale 2505 - Lot 318

Price Realized: $ 8,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
(MEXICAN MANUSCRIPTS.) Pair of illustrated Nahuatl deeds. 2 manuscript documents, each 3 pages, about 12 x 8 1/2 inches, on a folding sheet, with a manuscript illustration on the third page; both worn and dampstained, one with moderate worming, but with minimal loss of text. Moyotlan, 1578 and 1589

Additional Details

These cartas de venda, or bills of sale, record the sale of property in Moyotlan, an Aztec barrio of Mexico City. Written in Nahuatl by an indigenous scribe and including plans of the property being sold illustrated in a pre-Conquest Aztec style, these two texts are far from being simple receipts. Each records the rites, speeches, and practices that were employed in transferring the properties from the sellers to the buyers (all of whom were Indian), reflecting pre-Columbian traditions. Notably, one of the sellers exhorts the buyers to never allow any Spaniard to force them to sell their property. They are each illustrated with plans of the buildings being sold, and the surrounding land. Aside from some words written in the Latin alphabet, there is little discernible European influence in these maps, which have the aesthetic of an early codex. Symbols of hands, arrows, and bones, reflect pre-Conquest units of measurements; one uses a series of dots to indicate the number of each unit. One house, for example, measured six by eleven hands. One of the houses appears to have had 11 rooms, with some of the rooms being cihuacalli, "rooms for women." Another, which sold for a higher price, featured an achcocalli or upper story, suggesting it may have been the residence of an Aztec noble. The two cartas in this lot are a testament to the cultural melding that took place in colonial Mexico, featuring both European alphabetic writing and Aztec pictographic glyphs.