Facsimile Manuscript report to Guatemalan Governor José Estachería

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Author: Río, Antonio del (1745-1789)

Year: 1993

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial

Place: Madrid


16 facsimile hand written pages with diagrams and three fold out diagrams of Palenque. Folio (12 1/2" x 8 1/2") bound in velum with black label and gilt lettering to cover. Testimonio's Tabula Americae. Limited to 980 copies of which this is 169.

Spanish artillery Captain Antonio del Río’s (ca. 1745-ca. 1789) discovery of tangible evidence of an amazingly rich Maya past and this printed report were the beginning of the study of this truly lost civilization. In May 1786 upon the order of the Spanish Crown, Governor and Brigadier General of the Royal Audencia of Guatemala, Don José Estachería sent Río to Chiapas to investigate rumors of an ancient city near Santo Domingo del Palenque and determine the origin of its inhabitants. Rio was preceded by other visitors to Palenque, the most recent being two brief forays by José Antonio Calderón, a local official, and Spanish architect Antonio Bernasconi, whose sparse observations prompted the order for the full-scale investigation by Río. The Spanish captain made up for his lack of antiquarian training with his zeal, hiring seventy-nine Maya locals to assault with crowbars and axes the abandoned, tree-engulfed, seventh-century city of Palenque. In his report Río describes and comments on the hieroglyphs he saw. Río sent his manuscript report to Guatemalan Governor José Estachería, and it was preserved in Madrid. Almendáriz’s original drawings were recently found in a private European collection and published: Estampas de Palenque (not included here), Madrid: Testimonio, 1993. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the author’s manuscript and Waldeck’s drawings re-emerged in a still mysterious manner to be published in England. Publisher Henry Berthoud bought the manuscript from a mysterious Dr. McQuy (McQueen?) in Jamaica at the end of April 1822. Capitalizing on public interest in American indigenous cultures as well as in Romantic ruins, Berthoud published Rio’s work in hopes of a popular bestseller, which might otherwise have been lost.


A Fine copy.

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