Written by a Franciscan monk: an insight into the culture of Purépecha, the rival of the Aztecs in western Mexico

Michoacán Relation

Province of Mechuacan or Michoacan (Mexico) — 1539–1541

Michoacán Relation

Michoacán Relation

Province of Mechuacan or Michoacan (Mexico) — 1539–1541

  1. The Franciscan monk Jeronimo de Alcalá (1571–1632) wrote about the history, rites, and customs of the Purépecha

  2. This codex offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of an indigenous ethnic group in western Mexico

  3. They lived in Michoacán, a state on Mexico's west coast, and were powerful rivals to the Aztecs

Michoacán Relation

Alternative Titles:
  • Relación de Michoacán
  • Relation de Michoacan
  • Códice de Michoacán
  • Codex aus Michoacán
Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology
Short Description

The mid–16th century manuscript known as the Michoacán Relation is a unique piece of evidence of the history, rites, and customs of the Purépecha. The codex offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of an indigenous ethnic group in Mexico, whose wonderful culture was lost due to the 16th century conquest by Europeans. The fact that this important knowledge was not lost is thanks to the Franciscan monk Jeronimo de Alcalá. Thus, the Michoacán Relation offers numerous illustrations alongside the explanatory text, which wonderfully demonstrates the life of the Purépecha in the central-western region of modern Mexico.

Michoacán Relation

The mid–16th century manuscript known as the Michoacán Relation is a unique piece of evidence of the history, rites, and customs of the Purépecha. The codex offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of an indigenous ethnic group in Mexico, whose wonderful culture was lost due to the 16th century conquest by Europeans. The fact that this important knowledge was not lost is thanks to the Franciscan monk Jeronimo de Alcalá. Thus, the Michoacán Relation offers numerous illustrations alongside the explanatory text, which wonderfully demonstrates the life of the Purépecha in the central-western region of modern Mexico.

The Tarascan or Purépecha People

Information about the history, culture, and political organization of the Purépecha, one of the indigenous ethnic groups in Mexico, is assembled on 306 pages in the Michoacán Relation. They lived in the province of Michoacán, a Mexican state on the country’s west coast. The Purépecha or Tarascans (as the Spanish conquistadors called the indigenous population) were a powerful people. Rivals to the Aztecs, they are famous to this day for their significant cities, which are known today as a site for archeological excavation and for tourists to visit ruins. The Spanish conquest of the New World in the 15th century, per Hernán Cortés in Mexico, lead to the subjugation of the Tarascans from 1525–30, inter alia, and the killing of their leader Tanganxon II. The Purépecha were subsequently missionized and robbed of their own culture.

History from a Trustworthy Source

The Franciscan Jeronimo de Alcalá, a Spanish monk, composed the Relación de las ceremonias y ritos y población y gobernación de los indios de la provincia de Michoacán ca. 1539-40. In doing so, he was presumably complying with a commission by the first Viceroy of the New World, Antonio de Mendoza. Jeronimo de Alcalá was able to rely on the help of a few priests of the Purépecha, who were able to relate their stories and knowledge to him. The codex probably came to El Escorial, where it is stored today, as a gift from Antonio de Mendoza to King Philip II.

Exotic Regions and Fantastical Names

The text is divided into three sections. The first follows the title page and forward, which no longer exists intact and comprises only a one-page-part of the text. This addresses the gods of the Purépecha and the feasts, which were organized in their honor, and contains the tale of the foundation of the kingdom by the Chichimeca in the Zachapu swamp. The second part of codex with 35 chapter contains tales of the legendary hero Tariácur and his glorious deeds. These were the people’s ancient ancestors. Additionally, the political and religious foundations of the nation were explained. Finally, in the third section, which is comprised of 29 chapters, the Spanish conquest is thematized.

Wonderful Miniatures

44 pen drawings illustrate the text. These are wonderfully colored with dyes made of both plants and animals, e.g. the blue of the water or the green of the trees. Thus, battles between the Indians or with the European invaders, inter alia, are brought to our attention in marvelously colorful, wild scenes. There are also figures of fantasy, who have their source in the mysteries and legends of the people. The Michoacán Relation is an irreplaceable, unique historical and anthropological document of the culture of the Purépecha!

Codicology
Alternative Titles
Relación de Michoacán
Relation de Michoacan
Códice de Michoacán
Codex aus Michoacán
Size / Format
306 pages / 21.0 × 15.0 cm
Date
1539–1541
Language
Script
Gothic Rotunda
Illustrations
44 pen drawings
Previous Owners
1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Michoacán Relation“

Michoacán Relation Facsimile

Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Michoacán Relation – Ç.IV.5 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
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Michoacán Relation Facsimile

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2001
Limited Edition
988 copies
Binding
Hand stitched and bound in stamped goatskin
Commentary
1 volume (606 pages) by Armando Mauricio Escobar Olmedo, Maria del Carmen Hidalgo Brinquis, Vicenta Cortés Alonso, Benedic Warren, Francisco Miranda Godínez, Juan José Batalla Rosado, and Gerardo Sánchez Díaz
Language: Spanish
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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