Relación de Michoacán

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Author:  Jerónimo de Alcalá (1571-1632)

Year: 010

Publisher: El Colegio de Michoacan

Place: Zamora


xxxii+314 pages with figures, color plates and index. Royal octavo (9" x 6 1/2") bound in original publisher's pictorial wrappers. Limited to 1000 copies.

Commonly called the codex is Relation of Michoacan reconstructs the early history of Michoacán, as it provides first-hand testimony about the development and history of the Tarascan people from their arrival to the territory from Michoacan in the twelfth century until the Spanish conquest. The manuscript, whose name Relation covers ceremonies and rites, and population and governance of Indians of the province of Michoacan, which is preserved in the Royal Library of the Augustinian Monastery of El Escorial in Spain, and consists of 153 sheets of 20 x 15cm., accompanied by 44 sheets, illustrating passages of the story. Originally, in addition to Alcala's prologue, the manuscript was composed of three parts, of which one is lost and only the second and third are extant.

It was written on paper from Italy, manufactured flax fiber. The ink used was at lest three types, presumably prepared by the Franciscan themselves in Mexico, following European and indigenous traditions. Pigment colors of the illustrations are from Michoacan. In its original form, the text of the "relationship" contained history, feasts of the gods, the story of the beginning of the kingdom, from the arrival of the Chichimecas, the first political alliances, followed by Tariacuri's history as a founding father and the political and religious organization. The third part contains the arrival of the Spanish, the conquest by the Spanish, and the arrest and death of Tanganxoan II, the last of the Tarascan leader. The 44 leaves distributed throughout the text, illustrate, by hand, passages of the story and in others it is a complement to it. All the illustrations are colored in the Michoacan ratio, except that found in folio 108b. The figures were drawn by pen and the shaded and painted with a brush, using red, blue, green, yellow, brown, purple and black dyes derived from vegetable, mineral and animal.

It was long speculated about the authorship of the List of Michoacan. Some attributed it to Fray Martin de Jesus, others Sahagun and some to Maturino Gilberti, and even those who awarded it to Brother Paul Beaumont. However, thanks to the investigation made by Dr J Warren Benedict over thirty years, it was determined that the author was Jeronimo de Alcala, a Franciscan friar living in the monastery Tzintzuntzan in the first half of the sixteen century. The manuscript probably was written between 1539 and 1540 and delivered to the Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, as illustrated in the first sheet of the codex. For many years this valuable manuscript was ignored by those who dealt with ancient history and the conquest Michoacan. However, some elements indicate that at least the Franciscan chronicler Fray Alonso de Rea, Isidro Felix Espinosa and Paul Beaumont, had access to the testimony and drafts the shaped the relationship, especially in referring to the funeral ceremonies concerning death and burial of Cazonci, chief ruler of the Tarascans.

Condition: Light edge wear else very good to fine.

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