Rethinking Time and Cosmos in Central Mexico: New Insights from a Colonial Zapotec Corpus
In 1704-05, after one of the most ambitious campaigns against “idolatry” in the colonial Americas, Northern Zapotec communities in Villa Alta (Oaxaca) surrendered 102 calendrical manuals and four ritual song compilations. This presentation, based on the first comprehensive survey of these songs and manuals, presents new insights regarding Mesoamerican cosmology and the 260-day divinatory count. It also examines multiple connections between cosmological beliefs and ritual protocols in this corpus, and sections from two pre-Columbian codices in the Borgia group: Fejérváry-Mayer 1, and Borgia 29-32. This talk surveys a Zapotec cosmological theory that linked the 260-day count with a three-tiered cosmos, analyzes parallels between Borgia images and Zapotec cosmogonic events, notes similarly structured ritual protocols in the Zapotec corpus and the Borgia, and concludes with a colonial ancestor summoning protocol that references imagery found in Classic-Period Zapotec monuments.