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

Annotations and Corrections to the Codex Ramirez. [continued]

17 Garcia (Origin de los Indios, V, iv, 327), gives a different recount of the creation of which the following is a résumé:

"At the distance of a league and a half from Guaxaca, in an Indian settlement named Cuilapa, there is a convent of my order whose Vicar, at the time of my coming there, owned a MSS. volume, * * * written in the figures used by the Mexicans, and with the explanations thereof, setting forth the origin and creation of the world, and the deluge, &c. This book I tried by all matter of means to obtain, but the holy father set too great a store on it to part with It, but permitted me to make such extracts from it as I desired.

"In the year and in the day of darkness and clouds, before there were any days or years, the world was plunged into total obscurity, and all was chaos and confusion; the earth was covered with the waters, and there was nothing but mud and débris over the face of the globe in these days there appeared visible to sight a god whose name was the stag (Ciervo), and whose surname was Lion-viper (Culebra de lion), and a very charming and beautiful goddess, whose name was likewise Ciervo, and whose surname was Tiger viper (Culebra de tigre). From these divinities originated all the other gods of the Indians. As soon as these two gods appeared they took on human shape, and being omnipotent and omniscient, they founded a huge rock (Peña), on which they built sumptuous palaces, made with the greatest art, where was their home, and their abode on earth; and on the summit of the most lofty part of the palaces, there stood an axe of copper with its edge upwards, upon which the heavens rested. This rock and the palaces of the gods were on a very lofty mountain peak (Cerro) near the pueblo of Apoala, in the Province known as Mixteca Alta. This rock, in the language of that people, bore for its name The-place-where-the-heaven-was, by which they meant to express that it was the Paradise and abode of all manner of pleasure and happiness, and where there was an abundance of everything that was good, and where not the slightest element was ever lacking to complete felicity. This place was where the gods abode at their first coming on earth, where they remained many ages in quiet and contented rest, as the locality was so pleasant and charming, but the world was all in darkness and clouds. * * * Of these gods, the father and mother of all the other divinities, in their palaces and court, were born two sons, very beautiful, shrewd and learned in all the arts and sciences. The first was called The-wind-of-the-nine-vipers, which he took from the name of the day on which he was born; the second received the appellation of the Wind-of-the-nine-caverns, that being likewise the name of the day on which his nativity occurred. These two youths were brought up in great pomp. The elder when he would amuse himself, took the form of an eagle and went flying through the highest skies, the second transformed himself into a tiny animal in the form of a winged snake, with which he flew through the air with so great a velocity and subtlety that he penetrated the hardest rocks, and became invisible. The effect of which was that those who were over his head could hear the noise and turmoil that was made below. The meaning of these figures was to exhibit the power that these gods possessed of transforming themselves and of their returning to their own shapes.

"These brothers then remained in their paternal home, living in comfort and peace; they bethought themselves that they would make an offering and sacrifice to the gods, their parents, to effect which they took censers of clay with burning embers upon which they cast a certain quantity of ground poison in lieu of incense. This, say the Indians, was the first offering ever made in the world. After they had made this oblation, the brothers created a pleasure garden for their recreation, in which they placed trees and flowers, fruits and roses, sweet-smelling plants and other varieties of vegetation Here in this garden and orchard. they refreshed and recreated themselves all the time and they made near it another pleasure-ground (Prado), in which were stored all manner of things necessary for the oblations and sacrifices which they had to make and offer to the gods, their parents.

"Whenever these brothers left the house of their parents, they disported themselves in this garden, taking care of the trees and plants, and seeing to their increase and preservation, and offering from time to time the aforesaid oblation of poison, &c. They prayed to their parents at the same time, making vows and promises, and supplicating them by virtue of the oblation which they were offering, and through the other sacrifices they gave them, that they would think well of creating a heaven, and that they should shed a light upon the world, that they should create the earth, or rather let the waters sink and the dry ground appear, for that they had no other abode and resting place than the narrow limits of their garden and orchard. And still more to force the gods to accede to their request, the suppliants pierced their ears with lancets of flint, drawing blood from them in torrents. This they did also to their tongues, and with the blood they sprinkled the branches and trunks of the trees by means of a sprinkler made of the branches of the willow tree as a thing holy and blessed. This action they performed to show their entire submission to the will of their parents whom they regarded as being greater gods than themselves. * * * These gods had children * * * after which there was a general deluge in which many of the gods were drowned. When this had ceased, the creation of the heavens and the earth was begun by a god whom they name Creator of all things, who restored the human race, from which was populated the Mixtec kingdom."

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