Number 2

Editor’s note: This content is archival.

Nahua Newsletter

October 1986, Number 2

The Nahua Newsletter
With support from the Department of Anthropology
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
Alan R. Sandstrom, Editor
A Publication of the Indiana University
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Brad Huber, Editor


In this issue

Welcome to the second issue of the Nahua Newsletter. Reader response to the first
issue was very encouraging. It is hoped that this newsletter becomes a very effective
means by which Nahua specialists can exchange information and ideas with each other.
Readers’ comments, suggestions, and opinions are always welcome.

The editor is pleased to report that a session entitled “What Happened to the Aztec
Empire?” will be held on Friday, December 5, 1986, at the 85th Annual Meeting of the
American Anthropological Association in Philadelphia. Official times and titles of the
papers in this session can be found below. In addition to this news, the present issue
contains two proposals to compile a bibliography on Nahua sources, several requests for
scholarly assistance, titles and details of new publications, and other items of
general interest.

Subscriptions to the Nahua Newsletter are free and are requested by filling out the
form on the last page of each issue. Readers are asked to make copies of the present
issue and send them to Nahua specialists not listed on the roster. A third issue of the
Newsletter is planned for February 1987.

Session on Nahua identity at AAA meeting

A session entitled “What Happened to the Aztec Empire?” will be held on Friday,
December 5, 1986, at the 85th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological
Association in Philadelphia. The session was organized by James Taggart (Franklin and
Marshall), Louise Burkhart (Yale), and Jane H. Hill (Arizona); it is divided into two

  • 9:30 KAREN DAKIN (UNAM) Early Nahuatl Linguistic Prehistory
  • 9:45 WILLIAM R FOWLER (UC-Irvine) Nahua Economy and Tribute in Late Prehis- panic
    Southeastern Mesoamerica: An Analysis of the Cerrato Tasaciones
  • 10:00 LOUISE BURKHART (Yale) Christ as the Sun in Sixteenth Century Nahua-
    Christian Texts
  • 10:15 TIMOTHY J KNAB Tlaloc Lives: The Intertextuality of Prehispanic Beliefs in
    Modern Aztec
  • 10:30 Break
  • 10:45 JANE M ROSENTHAL (National College of Education) and KAY A READ (Chicago)
    The T1axcalan Lady of Ocotlan, Xochiquetzal, and the Myth of Tamoachan
  • 11:00 JAMES M TAGGART (Franklin and Marshall) Nahuat Identity in Oral
  • 11:15 JANE H HILL (Arizona) The Identity “Mexicano” in Tlaxcala [A paper by
    FRANCES KARTTUNEN (University of Texas) entitled “Indirection and Inver- sion in
    Polite Nahuatl of the 16th/17th Centuries” may be substituted for Professor Hill’s
  • 11:30 KENNETH C HILL (Arizona) The Phonological Incorporation of Spanish into
    Mexicano (Nahuatl)
  • 11:45- Discussion
  • 3:00 DANIELE DEHOUVE (Universite de Paris) Green Sky: Changes in Nahuatl Color
    Terminology with Spanish Contact
  • 3:15 FRANCES F BERDAN (CSU-San Bernardino) Traditional Weaving and Costume in the
    Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico
  • 3:30 ALAN R SANDSTROM (Indiana-Purdue) The Face of the Devil: Concepts of
    Pollution Among Nahuas
  • 3:45 BRAD R HUBER (Pittsburgh) Variability and Rationality of Nahua Medical
  • 4:00 Break
  • 4:15 SUSAN CLEMENT-BRUTTO (Centre C) Cofradia Participation and Cultural
  • 4:30 MARIE-NOELLE CHAMOUX (CNRS-Paris) The Conception of Work and the
  • 4:45 DAVID ROBICHAUX (Universidad Iberoamericana) The Inheritance System in a
    Nahuatl-Speaking Community in Tlaxcala
  • 5:00- Discussion

Two readers have suggested that a bibliography be compiled on sources pertaining to
Nahua culture, history, linguistics, etc. Martin H. Sable (University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee) writes in a letter to the editor:

“As a Latin American Bibliographer for over 25 years, I am interested in compiling a
bibliography on NAHUATL. Please advise, REPLYING TO MY HOME ADDRESS, whether you are
desirous of publishing such a bibliography in the NEWSLETTER, and if so, the length in
pages or entries of such a work.”

Professor Sable uses the following bibliographic form for books or journal

Author Title Place Publisher Year Pages

“For articles I omit place (if published in USA), but I add volume and issue
numbers. This is the clearest, simplest method and best for the reader.” Professor
Sable indicates that he would be willing to serve as editor of the bibliographic
section of the Newsletter, if so desired.

In a similar vein, Alan R. Sandstrom (Indiana University-Purdue University)
writes:”I applaud the initiative of Jane Hill and James Taggart in calling [the
December 1985] meeting of Nahua specialists. I hope some kind of permanent organization
can be created which, along with the newsletter, will promote communication and offer
the possibility of joint projects.”

“Among other things I was glad to see that suggestions were made to compile a bibliography of Nahua sources. My wife, Pamela Effrein Sandstrom, who is a university librarian, and I have already made a start on just such a project. At this point, we have compiled a microcomputer file of citations to sources found at the Tozzer Library. However, it is a daunting task that would be much better handled by a committee or group of some kind. We would be more than willing to share our work with a group formed from the newsletter membership list if anyone is interested.”

It seems clear that there are many benefits to be derived from the compilation of a
bibliography on Nahua linguistics, history, contemporary culture, etc. A comprehensive
bibliography which lists sources on all aspects of Nahua-speakers, past and present,
would also be a significant contribution to the study of Mesoamerica. The editor agrees
with Professor Sandstrom that its compilation might best be handled by a group of some
kind. Those who have suggestions or comments are asked to place a note in the


1. Campbell, Lyle. 1985 The Pipil Language of El Salvador. Berlin: Mouton.

2. Karttunen, Frances. (Forthcoming) An entry on “Nahuatl Lexicography”, for the
International Encyclopedia of Lexicography.

3. James Lockhart (UCLA) notes:

“Recently the UCLA Latin American Center initiated a Nahuatl Studies Series under
my general editorship to publish texts in Nahuatl or Aztec, the main Indian language
of central Mexico, and in time, related monographic studies in history, anthropology,
and linguistics as well. The first number has appeared: The Testaments of Culhuacan
(281 pp.), edited by S. L. Cline and Miguel León-Portilla. Although modest in
appearance, the edition contains reliable, authentic transcriptions and state-of
-the-art translations of the largest known homogeneous body of mundane texts in older

“Aside from the broad subject matter and consequent huge potential of The
Testaments of Culhuacan, their repeating formulas make them excellent practice
material for beginning students of the language. The book costs $17.00 plus $1.27
postage, in addition to sales tax for purchasers located in California, and can be
ordered from UCLA Latin American Center Publications, Latin American Center, Bunche
Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024.”

“…A draft of the second number, The Art of Nahuatl Speech: The Bancroft
Dialogues, edited with an extensive preliminary study by Frances Karttunen and
myself, is complete; it should begin production in summer 1986 and could be available
by spring 1987. Transcriptions and translations for a third number, Annals of Puebla
and Tlaxcala, edited by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Frances M. Krug, are nearing
completion. Materials and willing participants are on hand for many future

4. Riese, Von Berthold Christoph. 1986. Ethnographische Dokumente aus Neuspanien Im
Umfeld der Codex Magliabechi-Gruppe, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN


1. Manlio Barbosa Cano (INAH-Puebla) and other researchers at the Instituto Nacional
de Antropologia e Historia’s Centro Regional Puebla-Tlaxcala are interested in meeting
and corresponding with U.S. researchers who will or who have worked with Nahua-speakers
in the Sierra Norte de Puebla and the Valle de Puebla-Tlaxcala. One of Professor
Barbosa’s primary interests is the study of kinship and family. He indicated the
possibility of a cooperative investigation by U.S. researchers and several of the
Centro’s staff regarding the developmental cycle and structure of domestic groups in
urban and rural settings in the state of Puebla. Interested readers can write to
Profesor Manlio Barbosa Cano, Centro Regional Puebla-Tlaxcala INAH, Fuertes de Loreto y
Guadalupe, Puebla, Pue. C.P. 72270.

2. John F. Schwaller (Florida Atlantic University) would appreciate knowing about
any collections holding pre-l900 Nahua manuscripts, other than the Library of Congress,
University of Texas, UCLA, University of California-Berkeley, Indiana
University-Tulane, Newberry Library, Brown, or Thomas Gilcrease Institute.

3. The editor wishes to thank those readers who filled out the Biographical
Information Form found in the first Nahua Newsletter. Upon reviewing more than forty
such forms, it became apparent that this information would be useful to other
Nahua-specialists who wish to know about, correspond, and collaborate with persons who
have similar research interests. With this in mind, those readers who have not done so
are invited to fill out items 2 and 3 of this issue’s Biographical Information Form and
to send these forms to the editor. Responses will be published in subsequent issues of
the Newsletter in the form of a directory listing a specialist’s primary interest in
Nahua studies and a brief description of his or her current (last 5 years)
scholarly/research activities. Responses will be printed exactly as they appear on the

Those who have previously filled out the Biographical Information Form are free to
amend their responses in order to bring them up to date. Those who do not wish to be
listed in this directory can notify the editor.


1. Congratulations to John Bierhorst who has received a grant from the National
Endowment for the Humanities to translate the Codex Chimalpopoca (Annals of Cuauhtitlan
and Legend of the Suns).

2. Dumbarton Oaks sponsored (July 1 to September 1, 1986) a Summer Research Seminar
entitled “Empire, Province, and Village in Aztec History.” Frances F. Berdan
(California State University-San Bernardino) researched regional diversity in the Aztec
imperial realm, with special attention to tribute and market patterns. Richard Blanton
(Purdue University) examined the impact of imperial expansion on conquered provinces,
with special emphasis on urban-rural interactions and the manner in which villages link
into larger political organizations. Michael E. Smith (Loyola University of Chicago)
explored the nature of provincial social organization in Central Mexico and the impact
of Aztec conquest on provincial socio-economic patterns. In addition to the core
members, Elizabeth Boone, Mary Hodge, and Emily Umberger participated in this

3. Terrence Kaufman (University of Pittsburgh) spent six weeks in Mexico (23 June –
3 August 1986) working with Huasteca Nahuatl speakers from three towns:
Coxcatlán (SLP), Los Ajos (Ver), and Chontla (Ver). He reports that:

“Ca. 600 folk botanical terms were collected and taxonomized for all three towns.
Ca. 400 folk zoological terms were collected and taxonomized for Coxcatlán and
Chontla. For both Coxcatlán and Chontla considerable additional lexical (ca.
2500 items), inflexional (complete), and derivational (extensive) material was
collected. Monologues were tape-recorded from all three towns. The Coxcatlán
material has been transcribed and translated and amounts to about 40 pages.”

Professor Kaufman plans further work for Coxcatlán. He also hopes to
computerize the data collected in 1986 as well as materials collected in 1969, 1979,
and 1984. He points out that:

“Prospective field workers on Nahua should consider seriously doing some more
extensive work on the Chontla dialect since it is highly conservative both
phonologically and morphologically, and the current middle-aged generation already
decided not to teach the language to their children, so that this dialect may
disappear within 25 years. This is hardly a unique situation, but while Huasteca
Nahuatl in general is a very conservative type of Nahua, and accounts for 40% of all
speakers of Nahua, Chontla Nahuatl in particular is not viable. Its uniquely
conservative traits will soon be lost.”


Readers are encouraged to make copies of this newsletter and send them to colleagues
not included in this roster. Specialists in several areas appear to be
under-represented. For example. Susan D. Gillespie (Illinois State University) comments
that she “was somewhat surprised to see so few Aztec period archaeologists on the
[Newsletter’s mailing] list, as they are making valuable contributions to the
understanding of the Aztec people, of both the prehistoric and colonial periods.”

Editor’s note: For privacy reasons, membership mailing lists are only provided on the print version. If you have any member or subscription questions, please contact the editor.

Please direct any inquiries regarding the Nahua Newsletter to Alan Sandstrom.

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