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Adopted Pedagogies: Nahua Incorporation of European Music and Theater in Colonial Mexico City

  • Jonathan Truitt (a1)

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In 1519 Spanish conquistadors arrived on the shores of Mesoamerica under the leadership of Hernando Cortés. Following the defeat of Mexico-Tenochtidan, the Aztec capital, Cortés requested that members of the Franciscan order be sent from Spain to lead the conversion effort. In 1523 the first three Franciscans arrived, among them fray Pedro de Gante. One year later another 12 Franciscans made the journey. They established themselves in the southeastern portion of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, and under their direction Nahua laborers built the principal Franciscan religious compound, San Francisco, and the first indigenous chapel in New Spain, San Josef de los Naturales. Together this friary and chapel served as the main point of interaction for Franciscan conversion efforts within the altepetl, ethnic state, of Mexico-Tenochtidan. In the courtyard of San Francisco, next to the indigenous chapel, fray Pedro established an indigenous school aimed at the indoctrination of the Nahua peoples of Mexico-Tenochtitlan and other outlying altepetl. Although its students were primarily members of indigenous nobility, other promising Nahuas received an education there as well.

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References

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1. Lara, Jaime Christian Texts for Aztecs: Art and Liturgy in Colonial Mexico (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008), p. 201.

2. Sell, Barry D. and Burkhart, Louise M. Nahuatl Theater Volume I: Death and Life in Colonial Nahua Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004), p. xix.

3. Saldivar, Gabriel Historia de la música en México (Méxcio: Secretaria de Educación Pública, 1934).

4. Stevenson, Robert Music in Mexico: A Historical Survey (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1952); and Stevenson, Robert Music in Aztec & Inca Territory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976).

5. Turrent, Lourdes La conquista musical de México (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1993); and Cruz, Eloy “De cómo una letra hace la diferencia: Las obras en Náhuatl atribuidas a don Hernando Franco,” Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl 32 (2001), pp. 257295.

6. Stevenson, Music in Mexico, p. 51.

7. de Mendieta, Gerónimo Historia eclesiástica indiana, 2 vols. (México: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1997), vol. 2, pp. 7576.

8. Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid (AHN), Diversos Colecciones 22, Ν 13.

9. Cartas de Indias: Facsimile of 1877 Madrid Manuel G. Hernández Edition, 2 vols., ed. Levy, Edmundo Aviña (Guadalajara, México, 1970), vol. 1, p. 56.

10. Stevenson, Music in Mexico, pp. 813, 18–19; and Sadie, Stanley ed., The Nem Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 3 vols. (London: Macmillan Press Limited, 1984), vol. 1, p. 91; vol. 2, pp. 258, 816; vol. 3, pp. 567, 601.

11. Stevenson, Music in Mexico, pp. 1719.

12. Ibid., pp. 21, 25; and de Sahagún, Bernardino Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, 2nd ed. rev., 13 vols., ed. and trans. Dibble, Charles E. and Anderson, Arthur J. O. (Salt Lake City: School of American Research and University of Utah Press, 1970–1982), vol. 3, p. 67.

13. Stevenson, Music in Mexico, p. 32.

14. Códice Franciscano: siglo XVI informe de la provincial del santo evangelio al visitador lie. Juan de Ovando. Informe de la provincial de Guadalajara al mismo. Cartas del religiosos, 1533–1569 (México: Salvador Chávez Hayhoe, 1941), pp. 57–58.

15. Mendieta, Historia, vol. 2, p. 76; and de Motolinia, Toribio Historia de los indios de la Nueva España (Barcelona: Linkgua ediciones S.L., 2006), pp. 206207. In reference to cornett versus cornet, I have chosen the spelling with two fs, both because this spelling is found in music dictionaries and to prevent confusion with the nineteenth-century trumpet-like cornet. For more information on this instrument, see Sadie, New Grove Dictionary, vol. 1, pp. 496503; and Baines, Anthony ed., The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 8083.

16. Stevenson, Music in Mexico, p. 33.

17. de Sahagún, Bernardino Psalmodia Christiana (Christian Psalmody), trans. Anderson, Arthur J.O. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993), pp. 78.

18. These songs have been tentatively attributed to Sahagún and his aides. Bierhorst, John trans., Cantares mexicanos: Songs of the Aztecs (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985), pp. 79.

19. Bierhorst, Cantares, pp. 79.

20. Ibid., pp. 179–181. The fray Pedro mentioned here was most likely fray Pedro de Gante, probably in reference to his instruction of the Nahuas in European verse.

21. Ibid., pp. 179–183.

22. Ibid., pp. 182–185.

23. For an example of this song, see Bierhorst, Cantares, pp. 277287.

24. Domingo de San Antón Muñon Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin, Annals of His Time, ed. and trans. Lockhart, lames Schroeder, Susan and Namala, Doris (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), p. 45. The song was also performed in 1566, although on this occasion it was at Tepeyacac. Bautista, Juan ¿Cómo te confundes? ¿Acaso no somos conquistados?: Anales de Juan Bautista, ed. and trans. García, Luis Reyes (México: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social: Biblioteca Lorenzo Boturini Insigne y Nacional Basílica de Guadalupe, 2001), p. 151. It is possible that there were multiple michcuicatl and that instead of being a specific song it was actually a genre. Chimalpahin, Annals, p. 45 n. 5.

25. Cruz, “De cómo una letra,” pp. 257259. Cruz also provides a facsimile and translation of the sheet music.

26. Ibid., pp. 273–274.

27. Newberry Library Ayer Collection (NL AC), MS 1481 Β (3) 1.

28. Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris (BNP), Fondo Mexicains (FM) 112.

29. Chimalpahin, Annals, pp. 29, 37, 157.

30. Sadie, New Grove Dictionary, vol. 1, p. 501.

31. Bautista, ¿Cómo te confundes?, pp. 196197; Chimalpahin, Annals, pp. 156157; and Lockhart, James The Nahuas afìer the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), p. 285. These were by no means the only instruments İn use during the colonial period, as Spaniards and Nahuas also played fifes, drums, and harps, to name a few.

32. Chimalpahin, Annals, p. 45.

33. Curcio-Nagy, Linda The Great Festivals of Colonial Mexico City: Performing Power and Identity (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004), pp. 1516, 19, 44.

34. Motolinía, Historia, p. 207; and Ricard, Robert The Spiritual Conquest of Mexico: An Essay on the Apostolate and Evangelizing Methods of the Mendicant Orders in New Spain: 1523–1572, trans. Simpson, Lesley Byrd (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), pp. 178179.

35. AGN Tierras, v. 35, e. 1; AGN Tierras, v. 22 pt. 1, e. 5; BNP FM 112; AGN Tierras, v. 42, e. 5; AGN Tierras, v. 48, e. 4; AGN Tierras, v. 49, e. 5; Newberry Library (NL) Ayer Collection (AC), MS 1481 Β (1) a; AGN Tierras, v. 54, e. 5; AGN Tierras, v. 1774; e. 10; AGN Tierras, v. 59, e. 3; AGN Tierras, v. 70, e. 4; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 965, e. 6; AGN Tierras, v. 1595, e. 4; AGN Tierras, v. 3663, e. 3; AGN Tierras, v. 101, e. 2; BNP, FM 255; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 387, e. 1; NL AC, MS 1481 F5; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 70, e. 3; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 1766; e. 7; NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) a; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Biblioteca Nacional (UNAM) Fondo Reservado: Archivo Franciscano (FRAF), caja 96, e. 1413; NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) e; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 1096, e. 8; NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) F; AGN Tierras, v. 163, e. 2; AGN Civil, v. 1763, e. 2; AGN Civil, v. 1828, e. 5; AGN Civil, v. 592, e. 1; NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) 1; AGN Tierras, 20 pt. 1, e. 3; AGN Tierras, v. 38, e. 2; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 293, e. 1; AGN Tierras; e. 5; AGN Tierras, v. 95 pt. 2, e. 8; AGN Tierras, v. 157, e. 7; AGN Tierras, v. 3711, e. 2; AGN Tierras, v. 1720, e. 7; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 339, e. 6; AGN Tierras, v. 109, e. 4; AGN Bienes Nacionales, v. 489, e. 2; NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) b; AGN Tierras, ν. 2776 pt. 1, e. 18; NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) d; Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Archivo Histórico (INAH) Colegio de San Gregorio (CSG), v. 119; AGN Civil, v. 592; e. 1; AGN Tierras, v. 155, e. 9; and Cline, S.L. and León-Portilla, Miguel Testaments of Culhuacan (Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications and the University of California Press, 1984), documents 14, 50, 92, and 95. It is likely that the drums being sold in these testaments were heirlooms from precontact times.

36. Lockhart, Nahuas, p. 188.

37. NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) e; and NL AC, MS 1481 Β (3) a.

38. AGN Historía, vol. 413, e. 1.

39. Katzew, Ilona Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), p. 176. Thank you to Sarah Cline for sharing this image with me.

40. AGN, Bienes Nacionales, vol. 387, e. 1, fs. 15. Special thanks to James Lockhart and Susan Schroeder for providing input and assistance on both this document and others.

41. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, vol. 11 image 43.

42. For more information on the Códice Valdés, see Cruz, “De cómo una letra.”

43. Stevenson, Music in Aztec, pp. 171172.

44. Ibid.

45. For information on dramas in Quechua, see Beyersdorff, Margot Historia y drama ritual en los andes bolivianos (xvi-xx), 2nd ed. (La Paz, Bolivia: Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, 1993). Special thanks to Louise Burkhart for directing me to this source.

46. Sell and Burkhart, Nahuati Theater Volume 1, p. ix.

47. Burkhart, Louise M. Holy Wednesday: A Nahtta Drama from Early Colonial Mexico (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996).

48. AGN Bienes Nacionales, vol. 1076 exp. 9; AGN Bienes Nacionales vol. 990 exp. 10; and Burkhart, Louise M. “Pageantry, Passion, and Punishment: Eighteenth-Century Nahuatl Community Theater,” in Nahuatl Theater Volume 4: Nahua Christianity in Performance, ed. and trans. Sell, Barry D. and Burkhart, Louise M. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009).

49. AGN Bienes Nacionales, vol. 990 exp. 10; Sell, and Burkhart, Nahuatl Theater Volume 4.

50. Domingo de San Antón Muñon Chİmalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin, Las ocho relaciones y el memoreal de Colhuacan, 2 vols., trans. Rafael Tena (México: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1998), vol. 2, p. 187; Horcasitas, Fernando El teatro Nahuatl: Épocas novohxspana y moderna (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1974), pp. 7679; Burkhart, Holy Wednesday, pp. 8186; and de Vetancurt, Agustín Teatro mexicano (México: Editorial Porrúa, 1982), pt. 4, p. 42.

51. Ricard, Spiritual, p. 195; and de las Casas, Bartolomé Apologética historia sumaria; Cuanto a las cualidades dispusicion, descripcion, cielo y suelo destas tierras, y condiciones naturals, policies, repúblicas, manera de vivir e costumbres de las gentes desta indias occidentals y meridionales cuyo imperio soberano pertenece a los reyes de castilla, 2 vols. (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1967), vol. 1, p. 334.

52. It is unknown if this play was performed, although the script was likely written during the 1590s. Burkhart, Holy Wednesday, pp. 8283.

53. Chimalpahin, Annals, p. 67.

54. See Sell and Burkhart, Nahuatl Theater Volume 1; and Sell, Barry D. Burkhart, Louise M. and Wright, Elizabeth R. Nahuatl Theater Volume 3: Spanish Golden Age Drama in Mexican Translation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), pp. xvii-xviii.

55. Burkhart, Sell and Wright, Nahuatl Theater Volume 3, pp. 9091.

56. Ibid., pp. 82–83.

57. Only one cue in the Sacrifice of Isaac called for a named song, specifically, the Misericordia. Sell, and Burkhart, Nahuatl Theater Volume 1, p. 159.

58. See script in Sell and Burkhart, Nahuatl Theater Volume 1.

59. Burkhart, Holy Wednesday, p. 46.

60. AGN Bienes Nacionales, vol. 1076, exp. 9.

61. AGN Bienes Nacionales, vol. 990, exp. 10; and Vetancurt, Teatro, pt. 4, p. 42.

62. Burkhart, Louise M. “Nahuatl Baroque: How Alva Mexicanized the Spanish Dramas,” in Burkhart, Sell and Wright, Nahuatl Theater Volume 3, p. 35.

63. AGN Bienes Nacionales, vol. 990, exp. 10.

64. Ibid.

65. Ibid. The Iztapalapa passion play is performed every year on Good Friday and is quite possibly the largest performance of the Passion İn Mexico. Other Passion plays are enacted in small towns throughout the Mexican countryside as well. For information on the Iztapalapa Passion play, see Trexler, Richard C. Reliving Golgotha: The Passion Play of Iztapalapa (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).

66. Burkhart, “Pageantry”; and Sell, and Burkhart, Nahuatl Theater Volume 4.

67. Turrent, La conquista, p. 153.

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