Art, Politics, and Religion in the Mixteca Alta since 1500
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
248 Pages | 8 x 10 | 108 color and b&w illus., 2 ma
For centuries, the buildings have served a central role in the village landscape and the lives of its people. Ostensibly, there is nothing indigenous about the complex or the artwork inside. So how does such a place fit within the Mixteca, where Frassani acknowledges a continuity of indigenous culture in the towns, plazas, markets, churches, and rural surroundings? To understand the monastery complex—and Mesoamerican cultural heritage in the wake of conquest—Frassani calls for a shifting definition of indigenous identity, one that acknowledges the ways indigenous peoples actively took part in the development of post-conquest Mesoamerican culture.
Frassani relates the history of Yanhuitlan by examining the rich store of art and architecture in the town’s church and convent, bolstering her account with more than 100 color and black-and-white illustrations. She presents the first two centuries of the church complex’s construction works, maintenance, and decorations as the product of cultural, political, and economic negotiation between Mixtec caciques, Spanish encomenderos, and Dominican friars. The author then ties the village’s present-day religious celebrations to the colonial past, and traces the cult of specific images through these celebrations’ history. Cultural artifacts, Frassani demonstrates, do not need pre-Hispanic origins to be considered genuinely Mesoamerican—the processes attached to their appropriation are more meaningful than their having any pre-Hispanic past.
Based on original and unpublished documents and punctuated with stunning photography, Building Yanhuitlan combines archival and ethnographic work with visual analysis to make an innovative statement regarding artistic forms and to tell the story of a remarkable community.
“Solidly researched and expertly written, Building Yanhuitlan covers the dramatic confrontation of Spanish and native Mixtec culture and the resulting synthesis of these two powerful traditions. The quantity and quality of historical resources employed here are unprecedented for the Mixteca, Oaxaca, or any other area of central New Spain or Mexico.”—Ronald Spores, coauthor of The Mixtecs of Oaxaca: Ancient Times to the Present
“Building Yanhuitlan looks beyond the architectural details of one of the early colonial era’s most impressive buildings. Readers will delight in Frassani’s lively prose as much as in the beautiful color plates and the black-and-white images that illustrate every chapter… Historians of art and architecture, ethnohistorians, anthropologists, and religious scholars will find Frassani’s detailed visual analysis, painstaking archival research, and critical reading of sources thoughtful and well balanced.”---Hispanic American Historical Review