Lienzo de Coixtlahuaca, Oaxaca, Mexico

On March 17, 2015, in the Centro Académico y Cultural San Pablo [] in Oaxaca, Mexico, Monica Pacheco Silva (FU Berlin), presented a talk on the Lienzo de Coixtlahuaca,[1] in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico. Her main point is that this document, from the early sixteenth century, is not a map, but rather a lineage document asserting the legitimacy of the nobles of Coixtlahuaca in the early colonial period. Like much of Mesoamerica, cerros (hills) play a key role as sacred places in the landscape. Pacheco Silva also notes that borders were permeable and not fixed as happened once the Spanish colonists arrive (they imposed European positivist ideas of property on American concepts of ownership based on use, provoking conflicts between virtually every community in Mexico that continue to today–see for example, Dennis 1987, Rees 1989).

Figure 1. Mapa de Coixtlahuaca

Van Doesburg lienzo_Coixtlahuaca

(van Doesburg 1993)

Therefore, she concludes that this document is not so much a map of territory, but a claim to rights. Her argument is interesting and convincing, although it may be that some early documents were maps, as Michel Oudijk (2000*) posits for a document from the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca, in which rectangles with glyphs for rulers indicated a territory, whereas an empty rectangle indicates a valley with no ruler. Sources: Dennis, Philip. 1987. Intervillage Conflict in Oaxaca. Rutgers University Press. Rees, Martha W. 1989. Losing Ground in Ajusco: Mexico City’s Urban Expansion. PhD Dissertation (University of Colorado, 1989). Ann Arbor: University Microfilms. Oudijk, Michel R. 2000. Historiography of the Benizaa. Leiden University, The Netherlands CNWS Publications No. 84. Van Doesburg, Sebastián. 1993. Lienzo de Coixtlahuaca [] Van Doesburg, Sebastian. 2003. El siglo xvi en los lienzos de Coixtlahuaca », Journal de la société des américanistes [on line], 89-2 | 2003, mis en ligne le 05 juin 2008, consulté le 19 mars 2015. []. NOTES. [1] Programa de la Mesa de Etnohistoria, coordinated by Dr.Edgardo De Mendoza for the Seminario de Estudios interdisciplinarios sobre la Mixteca of the Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova [].


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