Item Details

La Historía de la Curación de San Pablito Pahuatlán Pue. Halftitle: Ceremonia Religiosa contra la Brujeria.

San Pablito [Pahuatlán] in Puebla state, Mexico: c.1984. Unique. Tape binding (codex). The culture of amate paper dates back to the pre-Columbian, Meso-American era. The word amate derives from amatl, the Nahuatl word for paper. Mayan and Aztec indigenous people painted on amate paper to create codices (accordion folded books) depicting stories historical events and astrology, essential the format of the books were a ladder to the gods. The Otomí people continue to use amate paper for creating cutout figures for religious ceremonies, while other village artisans use it for Mexican folk art depicting colorful urban scenes festivals and celebrations. The paper is created from the bark of the amate wild fig tree (xalama) the nettle tree (jonote) and mulberry (morus celtidifolia). Each type of bark produces a different tone of color ranging from coffee browns to silvery whites. The pulp from these barks is often combined to produce a swirling marble effect. The artisans first wash the bark, then boil it in a solution of lime juice for several hours and lay the strips on a wooden board. They beat the strips until they fuse together to form the desired texture, and then dried in the sun. The cut paper spirits are also named as deities, including dios de abeja, dios de antiguo, madre terra. In addition, the Otomí cut paper camas (beds), upon which the paper figurines are laid during rituals. Ritual specialists first fold the paper before it is cut, producing symmetrical images when unfolded. The muñecos and camas are central features of Otomí rituals. During a particular curing ceremony, the ritual or religious specialist (healer, curer, medicine man, sorcerer, shaman) may kill a chicken and sprinkle its blood over the paper figurines lying on their paper beds while praying and chanting, in an effort to rid the patient of malevolent spirits. A lesser known aspect of Otomí tourist art is the making of small books from handmade paper where the lighter paper is used as a background surface, and brown and darker muñecos, the “sacred paper cuttngs” are glued on. These figures are accompanied by texts in Spanish written in capital letters with felt-tipped pens. The description and explanation found in the texts focus predominantly on ceremonies involving offerings to rain deities and countless spirits of seeds, fruits, and plants, as well as traditional curing practices. The bound manuscripts are essential testimonials, written by indigenous curanderos, revealing their knowledge of the healing beliefs, the religious world, the cosmovision, and secret costumbres (customs) of their ancestors. The libritos (booklets) represent valuable indigenous ethnographic stories, but also codify the sustainable industry of paper making in Mexico.

This copy, attributed to San Pablito Otomaní Indian artisan Antonio Lopez Maya, who constructed many amate books in the earlier part of the 1970s. This copy is tape bound with single leaves and papercut figures. Many of the amate books were distributed to a greater tourist market in Mexico in the later part of the 1970s and early 1980s with the intent to expose the creation and generate commerce for the amate paper art to greater Western and non-indigenous markets. While often speculated that the "Lopez Manuscripts" to be piracies (with Antonio Lopez's name clearly written on the front cover), Ursula Dyckerhoff (1984) published a study on her own Antonio Lopez copy, considering it "a doubtless authentic expression by natives relating to the magical figures of San Pablito and associated concepts."

Reference and summary from: “Amate manuscripts of the Otomí of San Pablito, Puebla,” Mexicon, Journal of Mesoamerican Studies – Revista sobre Estudios Mesoamericanos, Vol. XXXIV, Nr. 6, December 2012.
Sandstrom, Alan R., and Pamela Effrein Sandstrom. Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK. 1986. Very Good+. Unmarred, handmade and hand-bound codex manuscript with tape binding with handwritten text in brown ink on amate bark paper, decorative border. 28 numbered leaves with 28 paper cut illustrations pasted on. 18x14cm. In Spanish, as dictated originally from indigenous Nahuatl/Otomí. In very good condition, some wear and discoloration. Item #10959

Price: $1,950.00

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