Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

David Kelley on Pre-Columbian Lacquer

David Kelley reproduces this article in the spirit of having a guest speaker visit. I alaso pass it along in the same spirit. I shall have all of the plates together at top in this version, rather than foul it all up by putting the photos in the wrong place. It is especially noteworthy that lacquer-traders had established the Cochineal insects in India from Mexico during the PreColumbian period.



Lacquer, known in Mexico as Maque, in China as Ch'í-Ch'í and in Japan as Urushi, was a technology well-known in Michoacán, on the west coast of Mexico, at the time of the Spanish invasion. The process of lacquering was practiced for several centuries by pre-Columbian Amerindians in what today are the States of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Michoacán, and perhaps as far north as Sinaloa. The pre-Columbian Maque technology is mentioned in the Mendocino Codex, by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in his Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, [General History of the Matters of New Spain] and also by Fray Mendieta in hisCrónicas de Nueva España [Chronicles of New Spain].

China is regarded as the original home of lacquer. The Chinese recognized the protective qualities of the sap at least three thousand years ago (Casals, 1961:7). From China it was introduced to Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and India, (Abrams 1984:19; Garner, 1969:16), and it seems, also to west Mexico. The earliest known example of Chinese lacquer dates from the Shang Dynasty, ca. 1523-1028 BC, when the middle kingdoms of China began using lacquer on household utensils, furniture, art objects, and to preserve historic records carved on bones and bamboo (Abrams, 1984:20).

The oldest fragments of lacquered objects found in Japan so far, occur before the Jomon period, ca. 6th to 3rd centuries B.C. Archaeological excavations have produced artifacts and fragments of lacquered objects dating from the Yayoi period ca. 250 BC-250 AD (von Ragué, 1967:4-5). In Japan lacquer producing trees became as important as the Mulberry for silkworms and paper making, and tea producing plants (Hayashi, 1983:360). Formal lacquer production in Japan can be defined to occur during the Kofun period, ca. 3th to 6th century (von Ragué, 1967:5; Casals, 1961:8). With the introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century lacquer became the medium to religious decoration.

Uruapan in Michoacán is considered the cradle of maque together with other centers in Chiapas and Guerrero. Maque art flourished there long before European contact. How did the Michoacán people come to know this art? Did they develop it? Was it introduced from Asia? If so, when and how? Maque in Michoacán probably dates from between the 8th and 12th centuries, when a wave of cultural innovations appeared in Michoacán, along with metallurgy and a new ceramic style.

Perhaps it was introduced earlier by the Buddhist monk, Hui Sheng, who in 458 A.D. led a group of monks from the kingdom of Jibin, today called Cachemira, on a voyage to the land of Fusang or Fusangguo, as recorded in the Chinese encyclopedia and other historical documents. Fusang is the Japanese word for a tree and describes the saguaro cactus plant native to Mexico, and guo means "country" or "land." Hui Shen returned to China 41 years later, in 499, and reported his findings to the Xiao kingdom of the Qi state. It was recorded as his personal testimony during the Liang dynasty between 520 and 528 (Vargas, 1990:13-14).

In 1920, the Secretary of the Chinese Legation in Mexico and the artist Gerardo Murillo, better known as Dr. Atl, were convinced that about the year 600 AD, the Chinese reached the west coast of Mexico to where now are the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Jalisco, and Nayarit. Dr. Atl published an article titled "The Chinese were the discoverers of our nation" in the newspaper Excelsior, on May 22, 1921. He speculated that merchants introduced the lacquer technology (de Paul León, 1922:56; Zuno,1952:145).

There is a story in Nayarit of a pre-Columbian Asian ship that arrived on their coast and was cordially received by the chief of the Coras. Archaeology in Nayarit has produced artistic tripod ceramic funerary urns in tombs known as tumbas de Tiro y cámara (shaft and chamber tombs); dated ca. 1000 to 200 BC.

The culture known as Ancient Coras (400-900 AD) practiced terraced agriculture, and between 900 to 1200 metallurgy was introduced (Encyclopedia de Mexico,Vol.9:671-672). Indeed, a multitude of evidence indicates that a vast network of Pacific rim merchants traded along the coast of the American continent from Peru to Alaska (Murra, 1991). (Fig.1,2)

There are two principal types of lacquer: one from tree sap, the other from an insect. The first type is made from sap extracted from the Rhus verniciflua, a tree indigenous to China, Japan, and Korea, closely related to the sumac; and the Rhus melonórrhoea laccífera and the Rhus usitata trees, native to Southeast Asia. The sap from these trees is considered to be the true lacquer (Bedford, 1969:5; Hayashi, 1983:360). The second type, native to India, Burma, and other regions of Southeast Asia, is a red gummy substance deposited on the bark of certain trees by the insect Coccus laccá or Tachardia laccá (Bedford, 1969:5; Casals, 1961:5). The insects are related to the aje and cochineal insects found in west Mexico. Aje is the source of lacquer in Michoacán. The insects feed from selected sap, producing a waxy substance that hardens on their body and serves as protection against other insects.

The Hindustani term lac was applied to the substance produced by the insects on the bark of trees (Bedford, 1969:5), and the word Laccá, that in English became lacquer, was introduced to the world ca. 1553, by the Portuguese who brought it back from their travels in the Orient (Garner, 1979:19).

Lacquer is resistant to water, acids, and heat. (Yoshino, 1959:16) Undamaged objects have been found in ancient underground tombs that had been submerged in water for centuries. In 1878, a Japanese vessel sank containing valuable lacquer pieces on their way to a World's Fair. Nearly two years later, the lacquer objects were found unharmed (Bedford, 1969:6-7). However, lacquer is usually applied to perishable materials, such as wood, gourds or leather which eventually decay and disappear (Abrams, 1984:20).

Chinese and Japanese lacquer processes are essentially the same. The lacquer tree, Urushi-no-ki in Japanese (Kodansha Encyclopedia, 1983:36) and Chi shu in Chinese (Chinese Dictionary, 1981:531: Bedford, 1967:5), occurs in a wild state and is cultivated in plantations in both countries. The process to extract the resin from the tree is also similar. Lacquer's unique characteristic is its need for a moist and temperate atmosphere in order to dry. Warm dampness converts the sap into a dense mass that hardens as enamel. Density and drying vary with temperature, thickness and humidity (Abrams, 1984:12; Bedford, 1969:6; Garner, 1979:15).

Before applying lacquer in the traditional way, the surface is prepared by carefully filling all cracks with a mixture of rice flour and Seshime. Seshime is the resin extracted from the young branches of the Rhus verniciflua tree (Casals, 1961:13) and, to give it the proper consistency, is mixed with rice-paste or with the dust from the decayed wood of the keyaki or shii (S. Cuspidata) tree or with volcanic ash, the compound is called Kokuso (Casals, 1961:12). The object is then sanded until completely smooth, (Yoshino, 1959:31-33; Abrams, 1984:36). Another coat of seshime lacquer is applied to fill in all the pores, followed by a coat of fine clay mixed with lacquer. From ten to one hundred coats of this mixture are necessary before the decoration process begins, and some styles may required as many as 300 applications. Each coat is applied with a very fine brush made of human hair. Each layer must be completely dry and the object polished before the next coat is applied. Drying may take from 2 days to 6 months depending on the climate, lacquer thickness, type of decoration, and material on which the lacquer is applied. Polishing is done with a whetstone, using powdered vegetable carbons or burned deer-horn powder applied with a soft cotton cloth slightly moistened with vegetable oil and rubbed on the object with the thumb and palm of the hand. The above process may be repeated as many as 60 or 70 times to achieve the desired effect (Abrams, 1984:85; Yoshino, 1959:31; Casals, 1961:14).

Chinese and Japanese lacquer application techniques fall into several categories: inlaying, carving, dry lacquer, incising, painting, gold and silver decorations (such as Makie), and bodiless lacquer that began in the 18th century in China. Each category is subdivided into many styles, creating over one hundred varieties.

The earliest Japanese and Chinese lacquer usually combined red and black. Gradually other colors and decoration styles developed using inlays of mother-of-pearl and other sea-shells, pearls, woods, ivory, jade, turquoise and other semi-precious stones, gold and silver powder sprayed over wet lacquer or applied in sheets and threads.

The exact time of carved lacquer (tiao ch'i in Chinese) cannot be precisely dated. It originated in China, probably in the late T'ang dynasty some 1,200 years ago. The process begins by applying several layers of thin colorless lacquer and as many more of different colors. The design is outlined and carved to expose the desired color underneath, and is burnished and polished between each color exposed. The best known as uniquely Chinese is t'i hong, red or Peking lacquer. All the lacquer applications are cinnabar red and carved to expose the red background which is carved with a different design (Abrams, 1984:36; Bedford, 1969:10).

Incised lacquer dates back, probably, to the late Sung dynasty (960-1279) (Bedford, 1969:28). With a sharp pointed instrument, a very fine line is incised into the several coats of lacquer; the incised line is filled with lacquer of a contrasting color, silver foil, or gold dust.

The Makie process, that in Japanese literally means sprinkled picture, (von Ragué,1967:5; Yoshino, 1959:33; Abrams, 1984:73) is a specific style of lacquering. It began in the Heian period (710-1185), and continued through the Kamakura period (1185-1333) when it reached the highest point of refinement and popularity (Makie became representative of Japanese lacquer) (Abrams, 1984:76-81; Yonemura, 1979:361; von Ragué, 1967:5). The original Makie consisted of applying gold or silver dust on a wet coat of lacquer, polishing it after it dried, and repeating the process as many times as desired, sometimes substituting or adding colored powders (Abrams, 1984:77; Yoshino, 1959:33-37). (Fig.3)

Most of the different types of Makie use gold, of which the best known is Hira-makie (flat makie). Silver and/or gold is sprinkled on a design drawn on wet lacquer and after it dries the surface is rubbed with absorbent cotton moist with lacquer, it is then burnished with ashes. Togidashi-makie (burnished makie) is a gold and silver design covered with layers of usually black lacquer, and burnished until the design appear on the surface. In Takamakie (relief makie, as its name indicates), the design, which is modeled by applying layers of charcoal powder, stands out from the surface; after lacquering, the design is scoured and polished with cotton moistened with lacquer. Other Makie styles consist of applying numerous layers of lacquer over gold and/or silver dust or thin sheets; the surface is then burnished with a whetstone and scoured with ashes. All these styles were fundamental, very distinctive Japanese techniques (Abrams, 1984:76-81; von Ragué, 1967:5; Yoshino, 1959:33-38).

The Chinese and Japanese applied lacquer to armor, helmets, sword-cases, leather vests and shields. Armor for soldiers and their horses were lacquered layers of leather that made them practically impenetrable by swords or arrows (Abrams 1984:21; Casals, 1961:8). With the introduction of Buddhism altars, walls, and religious symbols and sculptures were lacquered. They also lacquered cups, handles, plates, and other household utensils, and to all sort of objects made of wood, bamboo, hemp (Soku), paper, metal, and earthenware. During the Kofun period (ca. 250-552) lacquer was used extensively on furniture, doors, screens and even entire rooms. Emperor Yomei (586-587) issued an order that taxes should be paid with raw lacquer. Many families who had land planted the urushi-no-ki trees to produce the necessary lac to pay their taxes (Yonemura, 1979:361; Yoshino, 1959:63).

Asian and Mexican lacquers have been compared with a great deal of debate, one argument being that Mexican maque cannot be considered the same as Asian lacquer since the sap of the lac Rhus verniciflua tree is not used. Nevertheless--although Asia and Mexico use different substances--the technology, process of application and results are the same. Both lac and aje harden on the object to which they are applied, water-proof it, are impervious to acids and heat, and facilitate the same types of decoration, and even similar designs are found in both cultures. (Fig.4,5)

If the term Maque originate from the word Makie (sprinkled picture.) Then, Maque, the name for lacquer process in west Mexico, is of Japanese origin, and it applies to the full range of processes and styles used in west Mexico. It is used in the same way as the term "China" is used to denote all porcelain serving dishes.

Maque is a semi-liquid paste--formed with a mixture of animal and vegetable oils, and natural refined clays--used, as lacquer is, to waterproof and decorate the surfaces of various types of objects.

The principal ingredient (animal) is the grease extracted from the aje insect (Coccus laccá, or Coccus -axin). The aje insects are purposely propagated by the P'urhépecha people of Michoacán, who are today known as Tarascos, a name given them by the Spanish.

Aje insects must be gathered alive during the rainy season and, still alive, dropped into boiling water. (Insects death before boiling are not useful). The aje is boiled until it releases a hard waxy substance. When the water cools the substance floats to the surface, is collected, washed, and is re-heated to remove any water residues and to liquefy it for easy straining; when it cools, like bars of butter, is stored wrapped in corn husks (Sepúlveda, 1978:43; Zuno, 1952:40).

Traditionally, insects were collected in May and June, wrapped in corn husks along with some tassels for their nourishment, and stored in a safe place where other insects would not disturb them. In November and December, the husks were opened inside white loose-weave cotton bags, and attached to selected trees (Sepúlveda, 1978:43; Zuno, 1952:152) such as cherry, acacia trees (spondias), pine-nuts, (Jathropha curcas) and Amate and in the enphobiacea plants (Aleurites laccifera triloba) (Jett, 1993:33),. The insects crawled out of the bags to find a place to lodge on the woody crevices of the tree-bark, and were harvested the following year (Sepúlveda, 1978:43; Zuno, 1952:152).

The second ingredient (vegetable), Chía oil, is extracted from the seeds of a native sage plant Salvia chian, (imptis-spicata), an annual of the labiada family native of Mexico. The Aztecs cultivated the plant for its medicinal properties; to prepare a refreshing beverage; and to extract the oil. Chia oil has a high glyceric content that quickly absorbs oxygen from the air, and forms an elastic hard surface with drying properties, it serves to thin the aje mixture. Chía oil is the base for maque in Chiapas and Guerrero where there is no aje (de Paul León, 1922:23; Sepúlveda, 1978:44).

The Chia oil is extracted by slowly roasting the seeds on a flat metal or clay dish on a low fire until they are uniformly light brown, or the seeds begin to pop open. When cool, the seeds are ground in a hand-mill or on a stone pestle. Hot water is added to the fine flour to form a mushy paste, which, when cool, is kneaded for about an hour or until the oil begins to drip. The paste is wrapped in a cloth and twisted to wring out the oil. Finally, the oil is boiled to preserve it until it is needed (Sepúlveda, 1978:62).

The third ingredient (mineral), fine dolomite powder, is added to the aje and chia oil to give it the necessary consistency. Dolomite--called Teputzuta in P'urhépecha -- and other similar mineral clays used as colorants give body to the maque mixture.

The Maque process in Michoacán follows the Chinese and Japanese prototype. Amerindians seem to have reinterpreted the technology and adapted it to regional climatic conditions and materials. Preparation of the surface is identical as in China and Japan--that is, any cracks are filled with a mixture called Nimácata (equivalent to Japanese Kokuso), a mixture of dolomite powder and Chía oil (Zuno, 1952:153). The object is sanded until completely smooth and as many coats of nimácata are applied as necessary and drying and sanded in between applications until all pores are filled and all imperfections eliminated (Sepúlveda, 1978). The earliest technique used in Michoacán was similar to Japanese Makie--that is, powdered colored clays were sprayed onto wet nimácata. It was then polished with a whetstone, and scoured with ashes of burned animal bones or from burned olote (corn cob). Other than the makie style, other techniques included incising (termed rayado or embutido) and incrustation.

Colors initially used in pre-Hispanic Michoacán were red and black as in early Chinese and Japanese lacquer ware. Black was obtained from the fine powder of burned animal bones or from burned corn cob. Other colors were later introduced such, as blue, yellow and green. Colors are also extracted from plants and insects. Vermilion was achieved by combining sulfur and cinnabar. (Fig.6)

Magenta, purple, and scarlet, were extracted from cochineal eggs (Sepúlveda, 1978:44). To extract the color from cochineal, the insects are cooked in vapor and dried in the sun before being ground to a fine powder. The purpura and red colors obtained from the cochineal were associated with fire and the sun and were considered to posses magic and spiritual values (Fernández, Ortíz, Torrens, 1989:7; Jett, 1993:33).

Yellow was extracted by boiling a piece of zacapele wood; the resulting tincture was mixed with clays of other colors for different color combination. Sahagún wrote in his chronicles that dry, finely ground colorants in red, scarlet, ocher, and green, and also a yellow paste called Tzictli, obtained in creeks near Tula, were sold in the market of Tlatelolco (then, near Mexico city) and were used to color maque.

Blue, (añil) or indigo, was obtained from a plant. Blue from natural colorants is difficult to produce in maque or lacquer. Properties in lac and aje affect colors and therefore the use of color is limited. The Japanese obtained a variety of color shades by adding lead oxide (litharge) to the oil obtained from the seeds of the Perilla frutescens Brit. the mixture was boiled before adding the pigment and then added to the lacquer. The same results were achieved in maque by adding alum (Yonemura, 1959:30; Sepúlveda, 1978).

Rayado (incising), is a traditional technique used in maque centers in today's states of Michoacán, Guerrero, and Chiapas. Early Mexican techniques of applying colors and decorations were the same as in China and Japan. The design is carved using the point of a sharp cactus needle inserted in a turkey quill some other large bird, (in the fashion of ancient ink writing pen). The soft plume of the feather is used to brush off the excess clay or maque that is carved off (Sepúlveda, 1978). The fine incised lines are filled with contrasting colored maque--one color at a time-- drying, scouring and polishing after each application. (Fig.7)

Carving in Michoacán is somewhat different than the Chinese carved lacquer. Each part of the design of the same color--such as flower's petals--is carved from the several coats of a maque and the cavities filled with the desired color. One color at a time--drying, scouring and polishing after each. The process is an early style in Michoacán, used first in ceramics that have been termed pseudo-cloisonne, an ancient Chinese traditional technique of filling design cavities with various materials, including enamels on a metal base. (Fig.8)

Incrustado (inlaying) in maque ware used turquoise stones, and perhaps coral, mother-of-pearl, and gold, copper, or silver. No samples of maque ware have survived to indicate that other materials were used in incrustation, but that technique has existed for centuries in west Mexico.

Sculpting in Michoacán with dry lacquer, a process which originated in China during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-221 A.D.), is similar to the Japanese process which dates from the Nara period (710-784). In the latter, a rough form was made in clay, sun-dried, and covered with a paste composed of seshime and dry crushed tree bark, fibers, leaves, and slime from decomposed leaves (Bedford, 1969:15; Abrams, 1984:73), then covered with numerous layers of seshime interlined with strips of fabric--hemp, silk, linen--or paper. Once the frame was formed and dried, the base material was removed, and the sculpture lacquered and decorated. In the Michoacán process, the sculpture was formed from the pulp of the corn plant's stem, mixed with a glue extracted from the bulb of a native orchid and the slimy juice of the nopal (cactus). Several layers of nimácata and base coats of maque were applied, then decorated with colored maque or painted (El Quehacer de un Pueblo,1990:163)(Fig.9)

Painting designs on maque ware --Urushi-e in Japanese and hua ch'i in Chinese--began in China around the time of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-221 A.D.). There are two types of painting: painting with lacquer, in which the design is painted on a lacquer background with colored lacquer, and painting on lacquer with oils, using oil paint over a surface treated with several layers of lacquer, with additional layers of lacquer over the painted design (Bedford, 1969:15-16). Michoacán painting style differs only (perhaps a trend of recent years) in that the painted design is not covered with additional coats of maque. (Fig.10)

Michoacán's maque designs were simple natural themes taken from flora and fauna--frogs, deer, birds, flowers and scrolls. At first the variety of objects decorated with maque was not extensive. Wood objects, hard-shell gourds (Legenaria ciseraria) and various hard-shell fruits of the calabash family (Cucurbita maxima) (Sepúlveda, 1978:4).

La Relación de las ceremonias y ritos y gobierno de los indios de la provincia de Mechuacan, a historic document of the P'urhépecha, mentions that the high priest and the P'urhépecha chief, Tariákuri, carried a lacquered gourd as a symbol of nobility. A lacquered gourd was given to a person appointed to a high position, as a symbol of authority. The custom of P'urhépecha society was to pay tribute to their lords with seeds and grain contained in lacquered gourds and calabash bowls, (jícaras). Documented in the chronicles, Relaciones Geográficas del Siglo XVI,(Geographic Relations of the 16th Century) is that the P'urhépecha made canoes of hallowed tree trunks and were lacquered to make them water proof (Sepúlveda, 1978:8). With the introduction of catholicism by the Spanish maque objects became popular and in high demand. The type of objects decorated with maque expanded to pulpits, altars; to furniture, mirrors, statues of saints, and many other ornamental and household items.

Lacquer technology is not the only Asian cultural similarity found in west Mexico. There is an extensive pre-Columbian cultural complex in Mexico, and at various points along the Pacific coast of the American continent where extraordinary Asian similarities are found that must be recognized as evidence of early contacts, whether by accident, commerce, or migration.

In Michoacán maque was a controlled craft supervised and directed by an appointed person called the uráni-atári, (La Relación, 1541) while in Japan the term urúshibe was used to described lacquer-ware craftsmen (Casals, 1961:7; von Ragué, 1967:5). Similarities in vocabulary should be noted: Mexican/Japanese maque/makie, uráni--urúshibe--Uruapan (the last is the name of the al town that has produced maque ware long before the Spanish invasion of Mexico), and of Ch'í-Ch'í (the Chinese word for lacquer) to chía oil.

If the Japanese Makie, sprinkled lacquer style, dates from the Heian period (794-1185), the first maque technique used in Michoacán where the name was adopted to describe the technology, it indicates Japanese contact with Mexico about the 8th century. The introduction of Chinese carving and incising styles may also have been introduced by the Japanese who adopted the lacquer technology from China. Whether lacquer, maque, ch'í-ch'í, or urushi, the technology made a trans-Pacific, pre-Columbian journey along with many other cultural traits, beliefs, and technologies, that were reinterpreted and adapted to their cultural needs by the people of Michoacán.


Abrams, Harry N. Lacquer: An International History and Illustrated Survey. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1984.

Bedford, John. Chinese and Japanese Lacquer. New York: Walker and Company Inc., 1969.

Beijing Conservatory of Foreign Language, English Department. A Chinese-English Dictionary. Beijing: Commercial Affairs Book Press, 1981.

Casals, U.A. Japanese Art Lacquers. Tokyo: Sophia University, 1961.

de Paul León, Francisco. Los Esmaltes de Uruapan.Ed. of manuscript dated in 1922, Morelia, Innovación, Mexico, 1984.

El Quehacer de un Pueblo. Casa de las artesanías.Impresos Gráficos Lira, Morelia, 1990.

Fernandez, E., Ortíz, J.C., Torrens O. Purpura.Chiapas: Instituto Chiapaneco de Cultura, 1989.

Garner, Sir Harry. Chinese Lacquer. London/Boston: Faber and Faber, 1979.

Hayashi, Yasaka "Lacquer Tree," Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, Vol.4, 1983, p. 360.

Jett, Stephen C. "Dyestuffs and Possible Early Contacts Between Southwestern Asia and Nuclear America,"NEARA Journal, Volume XXV. No 1 & 2, Summer/Fall 1993.

La Relación de las Ceremonias y ritos y población y gobierno de los indios de la provincia de Mechuacan, Mexico, 1541.

Murra, John V. Paper presented in Mexico at the Quincentenary symposium. Seeds of Industry,Smithsonian Institution, 1990.

Ragué, Beatrix von. A History of Japanese Lacquerwork. Toronto/Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Sepúlveda, Maria Teresa. Maque. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, SEP, Sección de Etnografía, Mexico, 1978.

Sahagún, Bernardino. Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, [General History of the Things of New Spain], 4th ed. Editorial Porrua, S.A., 1544/1979.

Yonemura, Ann. "Japanese Lacquer," Kodansha Encyclopaedia of Japan, Vol.4, 1979, p.361.

Yoshino, Tomio. Japanese Lacquer Ware. Tokyo: Japan Travel Bureau/Toppan Printing Co., 1959.

Zuno, José Guadalupe. "Las llamadas lacas Michoacánas de Uruapan no proceden de las Orientales," Cuadernos Americanos, 11 (3), 1952, pp. 145-65.


The first ch'i means 'lacquer'; the second, 'object', changing only in pronunciation (qi 'lacquer, paint'; qi-qi 'lacquer-ware, lacquerwork, bodiless lacquer' (A Chinese-English Dictionary; Beijing, 1981:531).

Olaf Holm, cit.; Maria Rostworoski, "Mercaderes del valle de Chincha, " Revista Española de Antropologia Americana, Vol. 5, 1970, Madrid; José Alcina French, et. al., Navigacion precolumbina: Evidencias e hipotesis," Revista Española de Antropologia Americana, Vol. XVII, pp. 35-73, 1987, Madrid; John V. Murra, The Economic Organization of the Inka State[1955], 1980, ch. VII; Olivia Harris, B. Larson, and E. Tandeter, La participacion indigena en los mercados surandinos, La Paz, Bolivia, 1987; J. V. Murra, "An Archaeological Re-study of an Andean Ethnohistorical Account," American Antiquity, Vol. 28, 1962.

P'urhépecha - the people who migrated to Michoacán, called Tarascos by the Spanish at the time of their invasion of Mexico, and known as such today. However, modern Tarascos prefer to be called P'urhépecha. Their ethic name is not known, Linguist Mary LeCron Foster analyzed P'urhépecha as meaning 'wanderers' or 'those who are transplanted'; p'oré means 'to visit', with the suffix -pe meaning 'interaction' or 'change'; -cha is the plural suffix. (In Gilberti's Diccionary, P'urhépecha means 'peasants'.)

La Relación de las Ceremonias y ritos y población y gobierno de los indios de la provincia de Mechuacan, Mexico, 1541, 143 pages, 44 illustrations; narrated to Spanish monks Fr. Martín de la Coruña and Fr. Gerónimo de Alcalá by P'urhépecha elders of the council of Tzintzuntzan, the capital of the province of Michoacán at the time of the conquest. The original is in the Museum and Library of the Escorial in Madrid, Spain, and a copy of the original is in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., in Editor Peter Force's collection of papers.

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