Link to enlarge K6042 (Las Bocas - Ceramic Vessel) THE FOUNDATION RESEARCH DEPARTMENT

Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan,1 México.
Written by a Companion of Hernan Cortes, The Anonymous Conqueror.
Edited by Alec Christensen



Chapter   1
Chapter   2
Chapter   3
Chapter   4
Chapter   5
Chapter   6
Chapter   7
Chapter   8
Chapter   9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24


THE armor which they use in war are certain loose garments like doublets made of quilted cotton, a finger and a half thick, and sometimes two fingers; they are very strong.12 Over them they wear a doublet and hose all one garment, which are corded behind. This garment is made of thick cloth and is covered with a layer of feathers of different colors, making a fine effect. Some companies of soldiers wear white and crimson, others blue and yellow, and others again of different styles. The Lords wear over everything garments like short jackets, which with us are of chain mail, but theirs are of gold and silver gilt. These feather garments are in proportion to their weapons, for neither arrows nor darts pierce them, but are thrown back without making any wound, and even with [22] swords it is difficult to penetrate through them. To guard the head they carry things like the heads of serpents, tigers, lions, or wolves, with open jaws, and the head of the man is inside the head of the creature as if it was being devoured. They are of wood covered over with feathers and with jewels of gold and precious stones, which is a wonderful sight.13 They use shields of various kinds, made of good thick reeds which grow in that country, interwoven with cotton of double thickness, and they cover them with precious stones and round plates of gold, which makes them so strong that nothing can go through, unless from a good crossbow. Some arrows it is true pierced them, but could do them no harm. And because some of these shields have been seen in Spain I say they are not of the kind borne in war, but only those used in the festivals and dances which they are accustomed to have.14

Their weapons of offense are bows and arrows, and darts which they throw with a [23] machine made of another stick.15 The tips at the end are of edged stones, or of a strong, sharp fish-bone. Some darts have three tips,16 making three wounds at a throw, for on one stick they insert three very slender and sharp tips. They have swords of this kind,--of wood made like a two-handed sword, but with the hilt not so long; about three fingers in breadth. The edges are grooved, and in the grooves they insert stone knives, that cut like a Toledo knife.17 I saw one day an Indian fighting with a mounted man, and the Indian gave the horse of his antagonist such a blow in the breast that he opened it to the entrails, and it fell dead on the spot. And the same day I saw another Indian give another horse a blow in the neck, that stretched it dead at his feet. They use slings which carry very far, and ordinarily carry all these weapons. It is one of the finest things in the world to see them in war in their squadrons, because they move with perfect order, and are splendidly attired, and make such a fine appearance that nothing [24] could be better. Among them are very resolute men who affront death with determination. I saw one of them defending himself most valiantly against two light-horsemen, and another against three or four. The Spaniards seeing that they could not kill him, one of them lost patience, and darted his lance at him, but the Indian, before it reached him, caught it in the air, and with it fought for more than an hour until two foot-soldiers arrived18 who wounded him with one or two successful arrows. One of them got in front of him, and the other grabbed him from behind and stabbed him. While they are fighting they sing and dance, and from time to time utter the most frightful whoopings and whistlings in the world, especially when they see that they are gaining the advantage, and it is a certain fact that, to any one who had never seen them fight before, their yells and manly appearance would be intimidating. In war they are the most cruel people possible, because they give quarter to no one, neither brother, [25] nor relation, nor friend, nor do they allow any prisoners to live, except young and pretty women, killing and eating all others. When they are not able to carry away their booty and the spoils of the enemy they burn it all. They are not permitted to kill Lords,19 but they made them their prisoners, and carried them off well guarded. Soon afterwards they prepared a festival, in anticipation of which there are in the middle of the squares of the cities certain massive platforms of masonry, about half as high again as a man. One mounts these by steps, and on the top is a place as round as a quoit, and in the middle of this place is fixed a round stone, having a hole in the center.20 The Lord prisoner mounted, and was tied to the stone by the narrow part of the foot with a long thin cord. They gave him one of their swords and a buckler, and soon the same man who took him prisoner came to fight with him. If he again succeeded in the combat he was esteemed a most valiant man, and was given some insignia of feats of arms, and the Lord [26] in whose service he was gave him other rewards. But if the prisoner conquered him and six others, making in all seven vanquished, he was restored to liberty, and every one who had taken anything from him was compelled to restore it. It happened that the men of the dominion of Huecicingo [Huexotzinco] were fighting with the men of Tula, and the Lord of the latter city put himself so far forward that he could not join his companions, and although he did marvelous feats of arms, his antagonists so charged upon him that they took him and carried him to their city. There they arranged for the customary holidays, making him mount to the stone, and there came to fight him seven of the ablest warriors, whom he killed one after the other, he being fastened to the stone according to usage. Those of Huecicingo seeing this bethought them that if they unloosed a man so valiant and robust he would not stop until he had made an end of them; therefore they resolved to kill him and did so, which act brought upon them the reputation [27] of being infamous throughout all that country, for they had broken against that Lord the law and general custom, not keeping it with him as with all other Lords.21

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