Parution : Painted Words: Nahua Catholicism, Politics, and Memory in the Atzaqualco Pictorial Catechism

Painted Words
Painted Words


  • Hill Boone, Elizabeth
  • Burkhart, Louise M.
  • Tavárez, David Eduardo

Résumé de l’éditeur

Painted Words presents a facsimile, decipherment, and analysis of a seventeenth-century pictographic catechism from colonial Mexico, preserved as Fonds Mexicain 399 at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Works in this genre present the Catholic catechism in pictures that were read sign by sign as aids to memorization and oral performance. They have long been understood as a product of the experimental techniques of early evangelization, but this study shows that they are better understood as indigenous expressions of devotional knowledge.

In addition to inventive pictography to recount the catechism, this manuscript features Nahuatl texts that focus on don Pedro Moteuczoma, son of the Mexica ruler Moteuczoma the Younger, and his home, San Sebastián Atzaqualco. Other glosses identify figures drawn within the manuscript as Nahua and Spanish historical personages, as if the catechism had been repurposed as a dynastic record. The end of the document displays a series of Nahua and Spanish heraldic devices.

These combined pictorial and alphabetic expressions form a spectacular example of how colonial pictographers created innovative text genres, through which they reimagined pre-Columbian writing and early evangelization—and ultimately articulated newly emerging assertions of indigenous identity and memorialized native history.

Elizabeth Hill Boone is Martha and Donald Robertson Chair in Latin American Art at Tulane University.

Louise M. Burkhart is Professor of Anthropology at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

David Tavárez is Professor of Anthropology at Vassar College.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  1. The Atzaqualco Catechism and Colonial Mexican Catechismal Photography [Louise M. Burkhart, Elizabeth Hill Boone, and David Tavárez]
  2. A Merger of Preconquest and New Spanish Systems [Elizabeth Hill Boone]
  3. The Pictographic Vocabulary: Ideography, Phonography, and Syntax [Elizabeth Hill Boone and Louise M. Burkhart]
  4. Christian Doctrine: Nahuas Encounter the Catechism [Louise M. Burkhart]
  5. Rule, Service, and Privilege in the Pictorial Additions [Elizabeth Hill Boone]
  6. Mutable Memories: The Moteuczomas and Nahua Nobility in the Atzaqualco Catechism [David Tavárez]
  7. Deciphering the Catechism [Louise M. Burkhart]
  • Annotations on the Catechism [Louise M. Burkhart and Elizabeth Hill Boone]
  • Facsimile
  • Afterword: Painting Piety and Politics [Louise M. Burkhart]
  • Appendix A: Supplementary Prayers [Louise M. Burkhart and Elizabeth Hill Boone]
  • Appendix B: Identification of Name Glosses for Historical Figures [David Tavárez]
  • References
  • Contributors
  • Index

Informations pratiques

  • Date de parution : 2017
  • Description matérielle : 1 vol. (XIV-386 pages) : ill. en coul. ; 27 cm
  • Collection : (Studies in pre-Columbian art and archaeology, ISSN 0585-7023 ; 39).
  • ISBN 978-0-88402-418-7 (br.). – EAN 9780884024187
  • Bibliogr. p. 359-374. Index. – Texte en nahuatl et en anglais


  • PARIS-BnF : Tolbiac – Rez-de-jardin – magasin : 2017-137788
  • MADRID-Casa de Velázquez
  • PARIS-Médiathèque MQB

Olivier Jacquot

Responsable de la valorisation et des données de la recherche > Coordination de la recherche > Délégation à la stratégie et à la recherche > Bibliothèque nationale de France

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