Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs

Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs

Elizabeth Hill Boone

Language: English

Pages: 312

ISBN: 0292719892

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Winner, Arvey Award, Association for Latin American Art, 2001
Honorable Mention, Honorable Mention, George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award, Art Libraries Society of North America, 2001

The Aztecs and Mixtecs of ancient Mexico recorded their histories pictorially in images painted on hide, paper, and cloth. The tradition of painting history continued even after the Spanish Conquest, as the Spaniards accepted the pictorial histories as valid records of the past. Five Pre-Columbian and some 150 early colonial painted histories survive today.

This copiously illustrated book offers the first comprehensive analysis of the Mexican painted history as an intellectual, documentary, and pictorial genre. Elizabeth Hill Boone explores how the Mexican historians conceptualized and painted their past and introduces the major pictorial records: the Aztec annals and cartographic histories and the Mixtec screenfolds and lienzos.

Boone focuses her analysis on the kinds of stories told in the histories and on how the manuscripts work pictorially to encode, organize, and preserve these narratives. This twofold investigation broadens our understanding of how preconquest Mexicans used pictographic history for political and social ends. It also demonstrates how graphic writing systems created a broadly understood visual "language" that communicated effectively across ethnic and linguistic boundaries.

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human past has two stages, the first being ahistorical or prehistorical, and the second being historical, i.e., with alphabetically written histories.5 I hope I have shown the error of this position, denying, as it does, history to a great many peoples of the world who had deep historical traditions. In this volume I focus on the second and the third meanings of history: history as a story about the past and history as a specific document that carries that story. The first meaning of history—the

who investigated pre-Columbian history all speak of how crucial these paintings were to their own work, which could not have been written without them. More than being an alternative medium (alternative to songs and poems) for preserving historical knowledge, paintings were the essential documentary evidence for history. As long as the paintings endured, knowledge of the past endured. The converse was equally true: when books were destroyed, knowledge of the past was lost. Sahagún’s noble

The date attached to Jaltepec’s place sign tells us that 10 Eagle’s victory occurred on the day 4 Wind in the year 4 House. Immediately thereafter the story shifts to a new scene in a new place: Lord 2 Rain, 20 Jaguar, appears at a cave containing sacred objects. From other sources, we can surmise that he was responsible for this attack on Añute, although the Selden historian does not tell us this directly. In any case, Lord 2 Rain does not again figure in the story told in the Selden. The

foundation, and often the figures in each face in opposite directions; they can also be separated by year dates and a change in location. Events in the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon and in the Codex Selden can also blur into each other in order to share an actor or a place that the painter does not want to have to repeat. Ambiguity comes with the elements of time and space. Time is not the universal time of an annals account, where it proceeds at an established pace according to quantitatively

engagement of 6 Monkey to 11 Wind (Figs. 37, 38). The Zouche-Nuttall and Colombino include 8 Deer and 6 Monkey (but not 11 Wind) and add others. In the Zouche-Nuttall (Fig. 62), Lady 9 Grass sits in her Skull temple gesturing before the deceased body of Lord 3 Lizard “Flint Necklace,” a distant relative of 8 Deer and 6 Monkey, who is costumed as a yahui priest.38 Present are 6 Monkey (who is called by her second name, “Warband Quechquemitl”) and 8 Deer, now twenty-one and dressed as an eagle

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