Lienzo of Tlapiltipec - ROM2011_12080_1


Lienzo of Tlapiltipec

Maker: Mixtec/Chocho
Medium:Woven and polychrome painted cotton
Geography: In the 1890s the lienzo resided in the village of Tlapiltipec, Coixtlahuaca Valley, Oaxaca State, Mexico. More likely it originated in the town of Coixtlahuaca.
Date: c. 1575
391 × 168.5 cm
Object number: 917.3
Not on view
DescriptionThe peoples of ancient Mexico recorded their knowledge of the world using pictures and glyphs in manuscripts of various forms. Large manuscripts painted on cloth are known as lienzos, from the Spanish word for sheet of cloth. The Lienzo of Tlapiltepec is a history and map of the towns and rulers of the pre-Hispanic kingdom of Coixtlahuaca, located in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The Lienzo contains a form of pictographic or picture writing. Standardized figures of men and women accompanied by names deriving from the native calendar represent historical individuals, such as 9 Crocodile and his wife 12 Eagle (top). Places are represented by place signs, like that of the town of Tlapiltepec, "hill of the knot" or "knotted hill" (middle). In dates, an A-shaped year sign distinguishes years from days, as in day 5 Deer of year 6 Rabbit (bottom). Genealogical history For the Chocho and Mixtec inhabitants of the Coixtlahuaca Valley, genealogy was an important part of their history. Ruling couples arranged in columns at the upper left of the Lienzo record some twenty-one generations, and four or more centuries of Coixtlahuaca's two noble families. The most recent couple, at the top of the columns, lived around the time of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico of 1521. Beginning at the lower left corner with a cave and a pair of rivers, the Lienzo reads upward on the left side and downward on the right side. Black lines tell of travels to and away from the legendary seven-chambered cave. Red lines tell of the birth of semi-mythical ancient ancestors from a "river of quetzal feathers" and "river of jade," and of their descendants. Above the cave and rivers of origin and the ancient ancestors seen at the lower left, is a fire-making ritual. It is performed by priests and marks the founding of the hereditary rulerships derived from the ancestors, whose many generations are depicted at the upper left. The large hill-shaped place sign that identifies the site of this significant event is replete with symbols of supernatural and political power. On the Lienzo map, south is at the top and northwest at the bottom. The upper right section of the Lienzo corresponds to the Coixtlahuaca Valley, with Coixtlahuaca and its subject towns positioned approximately as these places are in actuality. The events and themes of this section are the founding of Coixtlahuaca and its dominance of the surrounding area, and an expedition launched into the region north of the Valley. Nick Johnson, April, 2007 The lienzo left the community of Tlapiltepec in 1904. The earliest record of it in Tlapiltepec is 1888-1892 during which time a local school teacher, Lopez Sandoval, drew some details from the lienzo. However, there is a strong possibility that the lienzo originated In the town of Coixtlahuaca, Oaxaca. Formerly known as "Codex Rickards" and “Lienzo Antonio de Leon” among other titles. The colours of the Lienzo are greatly faded and the woven cotton cloth has dulled from white to grey-brown. To protect the Lienzo from further deterioration, the ROM has made a full-size replica, presently on display.
If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.