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

History of the Mexicans as Told by Their Paintings
Translated and edited by Henry Phillips Jr.
Read before the American Philosophical Society, October 19, 1883
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society XXI:616-651, 1883.
Edited by Alec Christensen

Table of Contents


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

Notes 1-16
Note 17
Note 18
Notes 19-48
Notes 49-62
[CHAPTER 21] [p.638]

[Various Notes on Cosmology, History, and Laws]

[Note By H. P., Jr.-- Here follows what should have been a chapter by itself, being entirely disconnected from the subject already treated of. The historical part has come to an end, and this seems like an addition by another hand, being somewhat of a repetition of matters previously touched upon.]

They calculate their year from the March equinox, when the sun casts a direct shadow, and as soon as they can notice that the sun is beginning to rise 57 they count it as the first day, and from the twenty to twenty days, which make their months: they reckon their year with five days omitted, so their year only comprises 360 days; and from the day which was the [638] equinox they reckon the day of their feasts, and so feast of bread, which was the day of the nativity of Vchilobi from the plume, was the day when the sun was in declination, and so as to the other festivals.

The Mexican Indians believed that in the first heaven there was a star Çitalmene, 58 which was a woman, and Tetal Latorras (sic), who was a male, whom Tenacatecli (sic) made for guardians of the skies, and the woman never is seen because she is on the road that the heavens make.

In the second (heaven) they say there are certain women who have no flesh whatever, but are all bones, named Teçauçigua, 58 and otherwise called Çiçimine; and that these are placed there so that when the world comes to end, their duty will be to eat up all the men.

And when the old people are asked when the end of the world shall come, they say they don’t know unless it is when the gods themselves shall all become extinct, and Tlazquitlepuca (sic) shall carry away the sun, and then all things shall pass away.

In the third (heaven) are the 400 men whom Tezcatlapuca (sic) created, and who were of five colors, yellow, black, white, blue and red, so these kept ward in the heavens. 23

In the fourth were all manner of birds who from thence descended to the earth.

In the fifth were vipers of fire, whom the Fire-god had made, and from them issue the comets and omens of the heavens.

In the sixth were all the winds.

The seventh was full of dust which thence came down on earth.

In the eighth all the gods came together, and from there no one could ever ascend higher, to where dwelled Tenacatli (sic) and his wife; and no one knows what is in the rest of the upper heavens.

Being questioned as to the sun’s whereabouts, they replied that he dwelt in the air, and traveled in daytime and not at night, because he returned to the east when he had reached the summit at midday, and that his light then was that which already shone forth towards his setting place; and that the moon is always traveling after the sun, and never catches up with him.

Being questioned as to the matter of thunder and lightning, they said that the Water-god had many subjects made by him, who carried each one an earthen money-jug 13 and a rod, and that from these earthen vessels they cast down the rain, and that the thunder was when they struck the vessels with their rods, and that the lightning flashed from these vessels.

The people of Culuacan say that they came, conjointly with the Mexicans to Tula, and there they split and went direct to Culuacan, and thence to Suchimilco and Malinalco and Ocuyla. These four towns they settled and on the way peopled Cuitralavaca, and so 120 years passed away, and afterwards the Mexicans came and arrived at Chapultepec, as has been said, and waged war on the people of Culuacan.

In the histories of Mexico, represented by Indian paintings, are shown many naked Indians, at whose beginning are some clothed in plants, [639] thereby meaning to convey that when they fled to Mexico they were dressed in that manner, and that they subsisted on what they could obtain by fishing, and that they had to undergo great hardships; and they paint no more valiant warriors. And these were forty years without a lord. The first lord of the Mexicans was named Acamapichil, who lived twenty years. In this time it happened that two women misbehaved, 59 the one with the other, and they stoned them to death close to Escapuçalco, which is called Teculuapa; before this judicial act was performed, the lord of Escapuçalco reported it to him of Guatlinchan, and the two reported it to the lord of Mexico, and all of them ordered it to be done. And likewise came to pass that Xilot Iztac, daughter of Anil Mixtli, was married to the brother of the lord of Ascapuçalco (sic), and when he died his brother, the lord of Ascapuçalco, took her for his wife; and she went off to Suchimilco, and did wickedness with Ananacalt, and when it became known to the three lords, they took them and stoned them to death. They say it was the custom that a brother’s widow could not lawfully remarry except with a surviving brother, and if she married any one else she forfeited her lands and all her possessions. The first lord of Ascapuçalco was named Teçoçomucli.

At this very same time it came to pass that two lads stole the grains of maize that had been sowed in the earth, and they were taken and sold for slaves, and the price paid for each one was five mantas.

And in these days it happened that a woman stole certain maize from a granary, and a man saw her and told her that if she would let him lie with her he would not inform on her, and she did so; but afterwards the man accused her of the deed, and the woman confessed all that had taken place, whereupon she was acquitted, and the man was given as a slave to the owner of the maize.

At this time it happened that two lads robbed five ears of maize before it had ripened, and they were ordered to be hung, as it was a greater crime to take them before they were mature than afterwards. And when the first lord of Mexico was dead, the Mexicans remained three years without a ruler, after which they chose Viçiliutli, son of their first lord, who lived twenty-five years. In his time it came to pass that a man of Tezcuco kept a watch over his wife, and three days after her confinement he caught her with the sacristan of the temples, and he seized them and the three lords condemned them to death. And it also happened that a man found his wife with another man, slew the man and not the women, and she came back to live with her husband, for which reason both she and he were put to death.

When the second lord died the Mexicans chose Chimalpupuca for their ruler, who lived eleven years. In the days of this third lord it happened in Chimaloacan that a woman saw a drunken man and went to him and lay with him, and for this they stoned the woman, but inflicted no punishment whatever upon the man.

And at this time it happened that a man of Tenayuca had a granary of [640] maize, and from Guatlitlan robbed him by an enchantment cast upon it, for he fell into a deep sleep by this contrivance, and the man and his wife took all they found; and when this was known to the three lords they were both condemned to death, the man and his wife.

He who stole a hen was enslaved, but he who took a dog was not punished, for they said that the dog had teeth wherewith to defend itself.

When the third lord died the Mexicans elected to that power Izcoaçi. And at this time the Escapuçalcans commenced a war against the Mexicans and called on the people of Tezcuco and Tultitlan, Quautitlan, Tenayuca, Tlacuba, Atlacubaya, Cuhuacan, Culiacan, Suchimilco, Cuitlavaca, and Mizquique; all these peoples marched against Mexico, and were vanquished.

Whilst the Mexicans were ruled by lords that part of Tatilulco, which now is known as Santiago, was likewise under rulers, for whilst Acamapichil and Vichiliuitli reigned in Mexico, which was for forty years, in Tatilulco ruled Quaquapuauaque, the father of the lord of Escapulçalco; this latter was for two years ruler of Mexico before they had a lord in Mexico; he lived forty years. And while there ruled in Mexico Chimalpupuçi and Izcoaçi, there reigned in Tatilulco, Tlacateuçi, son of the first, who lived twenty-three years. Whilst Muteçuma the elder reigned in Mexico, in Tatilulco ruled Quatlatloaçi, son of Tlatecuçi, and he slew the former, and lived thirty years. Whilst in Mexico ruled Axayacaçi, in Tatilculco ruled Moquiuiçin, brother of the last, and married to the sister of Axayacaçi, and on her account there was war between the two because she gave out her husband was a man of war who had conquered the Cotastans and Mexicans, and on that account his neighbors hired his services. Whilst Teçiçicaçi ruled in Mexico, in Tatilulco ruled Ouacoizçiçi. Tacaxcal Tecli and Tlaueloquiçi, and Tatilulco. Whilst Auçoçi ruled in Mexico, in Tatilulco reigned Çiquac Pupucu, who was the son of Tacatecal, and son of Quatlatoaçij, and Yalocoauiçi. Whilst in Mexico Muteçuma then reigned, in Tatilulco there ruled Topantemitçi, Ticoque and Aguatal, grandson of Muquiniçi and Yzciaçi Tacuxcalcotlequinal, and this one could not 59* with Muteçuma. While Muteçuma and Juan Velazquez and Tapia were governors of Mexico, he who at first was not a chief personage in the time of the Marquis, Don Juan, was governor of Tatilulco, the father of him who is governor to-day, and he was a common man and maçegual of Mexico.

They held certain laws in war which they executed in grand style; and it was the custom that if the captains sent out a messenger and he did not tell the truth he died for that; and likewise they had another law that any one who should give advice to their adversaries should die for it, and likewise they slew any man who lay with a captive woman, and likewise he who was captured alive was slain. And if one captured a prisoner alive and another tried to rescue him, it was punished with death. In war-time they had five captains who at the same time were judges. There was a person who hunted up crimes and painted them, and gave the [641] information to the five lords jointly, and after consultation with the chief lord there were other five who carried into execution what the five had decreed.

There were other laws in their Tianguez or fairs which are as follows: If the son of the lord turned out a gambler and a swindler (tahur), and sold his father’s possessions or other portion of land, he was secretly choked to death, and if he was a maçegual or fisherman, he was sold into slavery. Likewise, if one stole magueys to the number of twenty to make honey, they should pay as many mantas as the judges should ordain, and if the party did not own sufficient or if there were more magueys, he or they became a slave or slaves. Whoever should borrow mantas as a loan, and neglect to repay them, should be a slave. A theft of a fishing net was to be paid for in mantas, and if the party did not own them he became a slave. If one stole a canoe or vessel in which people went, he should pay the value of the canoe in mantas, and if he had not enough he became a slave. If a man lay with a woman slave who was under age be became a slave also with her, and if she became sick and died, he became a slave, and if she did not die he paid for her cure.

If any one brought a slave to Escapuçalco, where there was a slave mart, and the purchaser gave mantas for him, and the seller unfolded them and was content with them, if afterward he rued his bargain he should return the mantas, but the slave became free. If any one did not grow up to natural size, and the relations sold him, and it was known afterwards, when he had come of age, the judges should order as many mantas to be paid as to them seemed fit to give his owner, and the slave became free. If a slave woman fled away and was sold to another person, upon its being discovered, she should return to her master and the price be lost that was paid for her.

If a man lie with a slave, and she dies, being pregnant, he shall become the slave of her master, but if she conceive and bring forth a child, the child is free, and shall belong to its father. 60 If any conspire to sell a free man for a slave, and the fact become known, all who took part in the affair shall become slaves, and one of them shall be given to the purchaser, and the others be divided between the mother of the person wrongfully enslaved, and the informer who discovered the transaction. Any persons who administer potions with intent to procure death shall be strangled for the same, but if the person murdered was a slave, the murderer shall become the slave of his master. If any one shall steal as much as twenty arribas of maize, he shall die for it, but if less he shall be redeemed by a ransom.

He who steals unripened maize shall be beaten to death with rods. He who steals the yetecomatl, a species of gourd fastened with thongs, and worn on the head with tufts of feathers, such as the lords wear, sprinkled with green tobacco. he who steals it shall be garroted to death. He who steals a chalchui, which was a string with certain computations forbidden to be owned by men of low degree, shall be stoned to death in the [642] Tianguez, wherever he may be. And he who in the Tianguez 61 shall steal anything from the dwellers within the Tianguez, shall be stoned to death. Highway robbers were also to be publicly stoned to death. Any priest who got drunk was to be slain in the house where he became intoxicated, and to be beaten to death with clubs; and the marriageable youth who got drunk was taken to a house known as tepuxcali, where he was choked to death; and any person of importance who held public office and got drunk, was deprived of his position, and if he was a warrior they took away from him the title of valiant man. If a father lay with his daughter, both were to be strangled to death by a rope passed around both their throats. He who lay with his sister was to be strangled with the garrote, a crime they considered detestable; and if one woman lay with another, they strangled them with the garrote. If a pontiff was found with a woman, they slew him secretly with the garrote or burned him alive, tearing down his house, and forfeiting all his possessions, and all who knew the matter and kept silence about it and concealed it, were likewise put to death. There was no punishment for adulterers unless they were taken in flagrante delictu, in which case when caught they were stoned to death publicly.


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