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Four Rare Book Acquisitions Build on Early Colonial Holdings

Posted On November 20, 2020 | 12:11 pm | by Flora Lindsay-Herrera | Permalink
New acquisitions contribute to linguistic, religious, and legal studies of early colonial Mexico

By Flora Lindsay-Herrera

We recently acquired four items for the Rare Book Collection that treat a range of linguistic, religious, and legal subjects. Oaxaca-born Juan de Mijangos’s Primera parte del sermonario, dominical, y sanctoral en lengua mexicana (Mexico, 1624) has been described as “one of the most important church-related publications in Nahuatl to appear during the colonial period.” As he did with his moral and theological work Espeio divino en lengua mexicana, Mijangos, an Augustinian friar, directed the Sermonario’s prologue to the readership of literate Nahua. Both texts richly illustrate formal Nahua discourse, as well as the ongoing hispanicization of Nahua people and language in the seventeenth century. Alongside the Sermonario, José de Ortega’s Confessonario manual, que en la lengua Cora (Mexico, 1732) complements our already rich holdings in early colonial-era sermonarios and confessional manuals in Indigenous languages. Ortega, a Jesuit, lived among the Cora in the Nayarit region of Mexico for more than twenty-five years. 

The addition of a copy of the first edition of Francisco de Florencia’s La estrella de el norte de Mexico (Mexico, 1688) substantially enhances our materials on the religious life of precontact and early colonial Nahua communities. Florencia’s compilation of written, oral, and visual testimonies concerning the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe includes an account of the Virgin’s apparition to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the first Indigenous Mexican saint. Florencia’s work contributed to the codification of the cult of Guadalupe and was produced to convince Rome to authorize veneration of the Mexican Virgin, who is popularly considered a symbol of religious syncretism between Nahua and Spanish traditions. Lastly, we acquired a manuscript detailing a lawsuit between Indigenous noblewomen over land in Cholula, including Nahuatl wills and testaments dating from 1632 to 1695. Together with items already in the collection that illustrate tenure conflicts in early colonial Latin America, the manuscript may shed light on the study of Indigenous women in colonial Mexico.


Flora Lindsay-Herrera is Pre-Columbian Studies librarian.