A.Sutherland – Icestech.info – This Mexican map is a property plan illustrating the foundation of two towns in the region of Tlaxcala, Mexico.
It was created 50 years after the Spanish conquered the Aztecs in AD 1521. The document was painted on native Mexican bark paper (in Nahuatl: amatl), which was widely produced in pre-Hispanic times in Mexico. The text was written in the local language, Nahuatl language, using an imported European alphabet.
The map, about 75 centimeters (30 inches) wide and 50 centimeters (20 inches) tall, was created in the city of Tlaxcala, which was also the name of the Pre-Columbian city and culture.
The people of Tlaxcala allied themselves with the Spanish to finally defeat the Aztecs.
Each town is represented by its newly built grand church – Santa Barbara Tamasolco (left) and Santa Ana (right). These two churches with bell towers, are painted in bright colors of yellow, blue and pink and represent the main features of the map.
The map also depicts a tree (in the middle) and under it, there are three figures wearing European clothing.
Other features on the map include several roads, water-courses and houses, of which one could be a hotel-like building as its name is ‘tecali techialoyan’ (‘the place where one meets people’).
The Mexican Codex Map represents a symbol of collaboration (on a religious and social level) between native people of Mexico and the Spanish colonialists.
For instance, the local Nahuatl language is used with the European alphabet, all Spanish and native names are used together and the names of the landowners tell that the Spanish settlers have intermarried with native aristocrats of Tlaxcala.
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Neil Macgregor writes: “…the map show marriages between Spanish settlers and native Indian aristocrats, evidence of a remarkable fusion between the two peoples and the emergence of a new, mixed, ruling class. More surprisingly, a similar fusion took place in the church…”
Historically, it is known that the Spanish justified their conquest of Mexico by arguing that it was their duty to convert the native population to Christianity.
The people of Tlaxcala were not conquered but fought with the Spanish against the Aztecs. They were also supposedly the first Mexican Indians to be baptized and become Christians.
Written by – A. Sutherland Icestech.info Staff Writer
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Expand for references
The British Museum
Macgregor, Neil. A History of the World in 100 Objects