Time and the Ancestors, Introduction: Temporality and Coevalness.

In ‘Time and the Ancestors: Aztec and Mixtec Ritual Art’, Maarten Jansen and Aurora Pérez present new interpretations of enigmatic masterpieces from ancient Mexico. Combining iconographical analysis with the study of archaeological contexts,
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  © 󰁫󰁯󰁮󰁩󰁮󰁫󰁬󰁩󰁪󰁫󰁥 󰁢󰁲󰁩󰁬󰁬 󰁮󰁶, 󰁬󰁥󰁩󰁤󰁥󰁮, 􏿽󿿽�󰀷 | 󰁤󰁯󰁩 �󰀰.��󰀶󰀳/󰀹󰀷󰀸󰀹󰀰󰀰󰀴󰀳󰀴󰀰󰀵􏿽󰀷_󰀰󰀰􏿽 󰁉󰁮󰁴󰁲󰁯󰁤󰁵󰁣󰁴󰁩󰁯󰁮 Temporality and Coevalness The title of our book pays homage to a classic anthropological monograph: Time and the Other   by Johannes Fabian (1983). That critical work – unfortunately lit-tle used in studies of the ancient or indigenous Americas – examined the way in which the dominant party in an intercultural encounter tends to situate (to construct and to interpret) ‘the Other’, i.e. colonised or otherwise marginalised peoples, in the past. Fabian shows how the study of the Other – in anthropol-ogy and related disciplines – has operated since its colonial srcins within this conceptual framework and tends to reinforce a mental distance between the intellectual outsider, belonging to dominant society (Self) and the ‘primitive’ or ‘traditional’ poor (i.e. dominated and exploited) peoples-as-objects. Fabian calls this distance, in study but also in social praxis and in policy, a denial of coevalness .This framework of historically produced inequality and alienation has an impact on the research itself and may concretely provoke all kinds of intercul-tural misunderstandings. The intercultural dimension is crucial to take into ac-count, particularly in the case of Mesoamerica, where the archaeological and iconographical studies of indigenous ideas about time are mainly informed by Spanish colonial sources and outsider ethnographies.These thoughts will guide us in our study of the relationships between the icons and relics of ancestors (who in part may be seen as Others, in part as intimately related to Self) and the symbolism of time in the Aztec and Mixtec  world. Ritual is a key articulation in this matter. Our primary source of infor-mation is the ancient visual art that, because of this religiously charged mean-ing, referred to rituals, was produced in a ritual context and/or had itself a ritual function. Ritual art is intimately connected to cultural memory, ontology and social ethos. We recall the insightful formulation of anthropologist Cli􀁦ford Geertz (1957): A people’s ethos is the tone, character, and quality of their life, its moral and aesthetic style and mood; it is the underlying attitude toward them-selves and their world that life re󰁦󰁬ects….But meanings can only be ‘stored’ in symbols: a cross, a crescent, or feathered serpent. Such religious symbols, dramatized in rituals or re-lated in myths, are felt somehow to sum up, for those for whom they are resonant, what is known about the way the world is, the quality of the Maarten Jansen and Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez - 9789004340527Downloaded from Brill.com10/15/2019 12:22:59PMvia free access  󰁉󰁮󰁴󰁲󰁯󰁤󰁵󰁣󰁴󰁩󰁯󰁮 󰀲emotional life it supports, and the way one ought to behave while in it. Sacred symbols thus relate an ontology and a cosmology to an aesthetics and a morality: their peculiar power comes from their presumed ability to identify fact with value at the most fundamental level, to give to what is otherwise merely actual, a comprehensive normative import. 1 Mesoamerica: Historical Development Our interpretive journey will start here with a brief introduction to the basics of Mesoamerican temporality: on the one hand the chronological scheme used by archaeologists and historians; on the other the Mesoamerican calendar and related symbolic thought. Time was of the utmost importance in Mesoameri-can civilisation, both as a way of knowing the passage of seasons or years and of registering events, but also as a cognitive and symbolic system to order (and make sense of) history, the cosmos and life itself.The complex chronological sequence of Mesoamerican civilisation is gener-ally structured in three long precolonial periods, followed by a colonial and a republican period. 󰁉􀁬􀁬󰁵󰁳󰁴󰁲󰁡󰁴󰁩󰁯󰁮 󰀰.󰀰󰀱  The extension of Mesoamerica Maarten Jansen and Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez - 9789004340527Downloaded from Brill.com10/15/2019 12:22:59PMvia free access  󰀳 󰁔󰁥󰁭󰁰󰁯󰁲󰁡􀁬󰁩󰁴󰁹 󰁡󰁮󰁤 󰁃󰁯󰁥󰁶󰁡􀁬󰁮󰁥󰁳󰁳 󰁉. The  Preclassic  or  Formative period   (± 1200 󰁢󰁣 to ± 200 󰁡󰁤) is the time in  which established agricultural communities started to develop perma-nent architecture (ceremonial centres with pyramids and palace struc-tures), with monuments and other art works as well as the 󐁦􀁩rst forms of graphic communication. The 󐁦􀁩rst horizon style is the so-called Olmec ‘mother culture’, the type of site that 󰁦󰁬ourished in the coastal area of the Gulf of Mexico (San Lorenzo, La Venta), as well as in the central Mexi-can highlands (Chalcatzingo) and in other areas. Many later cultures had their roots and beginning in this period.󰁉󰁉. The Classic period   (± 200 to ± 900 󰁡󰁤) continues this development into full and 󰁦󰁬orescent urbanism with complex art, architecture and writing systems. This is the time of the large capitals such as Teotihuacan in cen-tral Mexico, Monte Albán in the Oaxaca region, as well as the Maya sites in the eastern part of Mexico (e.g. Palenque) and neighbouring Central  America (Tikal, Copan, etc.).󰁉󰁉󰁉. The  Postclassic period   (± 900 to 1521 󰁡󰁤) is separated from the preceding period by a sharp break: the Classic collapse, during which many cities  were abandoned. After this, the region recovered: a cultural revival with new impulses followed, often in new settlements. First there is the in󰁦󰁬u-ence of the Toltec culture, which expanded from central Mexico (Tula, Cholula) to the Maya society of the Yucatán peninsula (Chichen Itza).  As consequence of this expansion an ‘international style’ developed. In southern Mexico (western Oaxaca) the Ñuu Dzaui (Mixtec) city-state cul-ture achieved its most emblematic form and art style in this time.􀀱 Here the town of Ñuu Tnoo (Tilantongo) was politically the most important.It was in the 󐁦􀁩nal century of this period that the Mexica or Aztec em-pire emerged in Central Mexico and expanded from their capital Mexico-Tenochtitlan throughout the whole region. With that expansion Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs, became widely spread as a lingua franca throughout the region, and is still the main language of reference in many studies of Mesoamerica.󰁉󰁖. The colonial   or  viceroyal period   (1521 to 1810) followed when the Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés invaded and usurped the Aztec trib-utary realm in 1521 󰁡󰁤 and so brutally interrupted the autonomous de- velopment of Mesoamerican civilisation. The region became part of the Spanish colonial empire as ‘New Spain’. An intense cultural exchange and interaction took place. The main thrust of colonialism was the extraction 󐀱 For Ñuu Dzaui (Mixtec) city-state organisation and culture, see the studies by Spores (1967, 2007), Lind (2000) and Joyce (2010). Maarten Jansen and Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez - 9789004340527Downloaded from Brill.com10/15/2019 12:22:59PMvia free access  󰁉󰁮󰁴󰁲󰁯󰁤󰁵󰁣󰁴󰁩󰁯󰁮 􀀴of natural resources and the use of native labour. Spanish was imposed as the dominant language of the administration and of intellectual life. The indigenous communities incorporated Spanish customs and world- view (Catholicism) as well as European technologies and styles. Spanish chronicles and missionary texts became the main source of information for reconstructing the precolonial society, its history and religion. 󰁶. The republican period   (1810 to the present) started when the struggle for national independence resulted in the present-day republics of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua at the begin-ning of the nineteenth century. Nationalism and capitalist industrial development became the dominant paradigm for science and society in this republican period. Internal colonialism replaced the former Span-ish colonisation. The imposition of the Spanish language and Western  worldview became even more intense. Indigenous peoples still su􀁦fer discrimination, marginalisation, exploitation and (often violent) oppres-sion, but they also maintain an impressive cultural continuity and a spe-ci󐁦􀁩c profound identity, which is undeniably also an emblematic part of regional and national identity.􀀲This chronological sequence, used in archaeology, history and anthropology, is clearly inspired by Western evolutionist thought: a progression from ‘primi-tive’ hunter-gatherer society towards urban civilisation, then interrupted by colonial conquest, but recovering with national independence and evolving towards a modern state, that is, moving forward to the industrial and capitalist economy. Mesoamerica’s own concepts were and are of course quite di􀁦fer-ent. The Postclassic inhabitants of Central Mexico, where the ruins of earlier cultural phases (such as that of Teotihuacan during the Classic period) are abundantly present, had a clear historical consciousness, certainly intensi-󐁦􀁩ed by the access to books and participation in commemorative rituals. They  were aware of the fact that before them there had been a succession of cultural realms, worlds or eras, which they called ‘Suns’, as each of them had started  with a particular 󐁦􀁩rst sunrise.The Aztecs identi󐁦􀁩ed the previous Sun or phase of civilisation with an an-cient capital (and associated realm) called Tollan or Tula, the Place of Reeds. Through the ages a number of important cities were designated this way. In fact, the Aztec capital, Mexico-Tenochtitlan, was itself called Ñuu Cohyo, ‘Place of Reeds’ in Dzaha Dzaui (Mixtec), and so is Mexico City today. Archaeologically 󐀲 Cf. Bon󐁦􀁩l Batalla (1996) on the concept of ‘profound Mexico’. Keen (1971), Gruzinski (1988) and Restall (2003) have discussed the colonial srcin and development of the image of Meso-america. See also the theoretical perspective of Mignolo (2012). Maarten Jansen and Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez - 9789004340527Downloaded from Brill.com10/15/2019 12:22:59PMvia free access  󐀵 󰁔󰁥󰁭󰁰󰁯󰁲󰁡􀁬󰁩󰁴󰁹 󰁡󰁮󰁤 󰁃󰁯󰁥󰁶󰁡􀁬󰁮󰁥󰁳󰁳 speaking, the city of Tula (or more precisely Tollan Xicocotitlan) in the Mexi-can state of Hidalgo was the immediate cultural and political predecessor of the Aztec world, while Tula-Cholula (Tollan – Cholollan) at the foot of the snow-topped volcanoes, at the crossroads between Central Mexico and the Ñuu Dzaui (Mixtec) region, also played a crucial role. Both archaeological sites 󰁦󰁬ourished during the beginning of the Postclassic period, but the memory of Tollan may actually go back further than the beginning of the Postclassic peri-od and contain reminiscences of the Classic culture of the city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico (󰁦󰁬ourishing between ± 200 and ± 750 󰁡󰁤), which was also known as Tollan, Place of Cattail Reeds.󐀳 Thus the term Tollan refers to much more than a historical city or empire – it is an emblematic place and sphere of civilisation. Authors of the colonial period compared the importance of its cultural legacy and memory to the role of ancient Rome for Europe.󐀴The people associated with the realm of Tollan were called Toltecs (from Toltecatl  , ‘person from Tollan’): they were speakers of the Nahuatl language. Tollan and Toltec culture were a great example to the Aztecs, particularly in terms of the construction of an empire and of artistic creations. The Aztecs themselves referred to their civilisation as Toltecayotl  , a term we might trans-late as ‘the Toltec tradition’. Toltecatl   was their general designation for a great artist or craftsman, and Toltecayotl   stood for artistic skill and civilisation.󰀵 In fact we may consider the term Toltecayotl   as the indigenous concept for which modern researchers invented the word ‘Mesoamerica’.For the general image of precolonial Mesoamerica, we heavily depend on the descriptive works of Spanish missionaries. The early colonial chronicles and treatises of the Franciscan friars Toribio de Benavente Motolinia and Ber-nardino de Sahagún, the Dominican friar Diego Durán and the cleric Hernán Ruiz de Alarcón for the Nahuatl-speaking (‘Aztec’) world, the Dominican friar Francisco de Burgoa for the Mixtecs and Zapotecs, and the Franciscan bishop Diego de Landa for the Mayas, are very informative and in󰁦󰁬uential. The Spanish authors – conquistadors, monks and o􀁦󐁦􀁩cials – were all com-pletely convinced of the superiority of their own culture and of the truth of Christian belief. They were strongly motivated to show to themselves and to others that colonisation was justi󐁦􀁩ed and in accordance with ‘the will of 􀀳 From Maya inscriptions we know that this ancient metropolis was called Place of Reeds, i.e. Tollan (Stuart in: Carrasco, Jones and Sessions 2000). Several references in early colonial sources that mention Tollan may actually refer to (echoes of) Teotihuacan.󰀴 Cf. Serna 1953: Ch. 12, 2: ‘Teutihuacan, que era la Roma, y lugar de los Dioses’  .􀀵 Cf. León-Portilla (1980). Sahagún (Book 󰁸: Ch. 29) translates Toltecs as ‘ o􀁦󰁦󰁩ciales pulidos y curio-sos como aora los de 󐁦landes’  : they were learned, skilled and wise, righteous and devout, makers of marvellous art, and inventors of medicine, they understood the movements of the stars. Maarten Jansen and Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez - 9789004340527Downloaded from Brill.com10/15/2019 12:22:59PMvia free access
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