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(MEXICAN MANUSCRIPTS.) Record book and constitution of an Indian cofradía in Mexico City. , 101,  manuscript leaves. Folio, 11 1/2 x 8 inches, contemporary limp calf with paper spine label, moderate wear; minor dampstaining, moderate worming, a few leaves slightly cropped; caption title in red and black reading "Libro de la Cofradia de los Naturales, en San Juan de la Penitencia, en la Ciudad de México &c." Mexico City, 1613-1774
In colonial New Spain, Indians sometimes formed religious brotherhoods or cofradías which organized and funded religious festivals or the veneration of religious figures. In this way, they helped relieve their communities from the expenses and labor involved in religious celebrations which could be a major drain on Indian town resources. This sizable volume traces in detail the activities and membership of one such group, the Cofradía de San Juan, in Teocaltitlan, an indigenous barrio in Mexico City. Based in the monastery of San Juan de la Penitencia, this cofradía was in charge of celebrations during Holy Week, particularly processions on Holy Tuesday. The text includes the rules and regulations of the cofradía, the results of their elections, and records of their purchases, acquisitions, and events which they sponsored. The authors, for example, record some of their Holy Week processions in good detail, noting the appearance of the banners used. During one Holy Week, the cofradía canceled their traditional procession because the event had become too rowdy and inappropriately festive; they decided that year to instead celebrate the day with more restrained and quiet activities. Purchases of jewelry and accoutrements for saints are logged in the text. The cofradía sometimes bought silver diadems to crown saints, and the title page was curiously used to record a 1660 Nahuatl bill of sale of one such diadem involving the Indian governor (tlatohuani) of Tenochtitlán. Also included are some apparent censuses of tlaxilacalli (indigenous neighborhoods) such as Yopico, containing the names and marital status of the adult residents there. Much of the text is in Nahuatl, particularly many of the earlier entries, though several parts, often written by Spanish supervisors, are in Spanish. The lot as a whole provides a substantial and illuminative look at the public religious culture and spiritual life of the Aztecs centuries after the Conquest.
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