This article argues that if we are to make progress in understanding pre-conquest notions of history among the Nahuas, we must study the earliest alphabetic annals at least as seriously as we have studied the pictorials, including not only those treating the pre-conquest period, but also those treating the authors' own times, the colonial sixteenth century. Placing the hitherto understudied Annals of Juan Bautista and Annals of Tecamachalco in the context of the well-studied Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca, Annals of Cuauhtitlan, and Codex Aubin, the author concludes that there is direct evidence that Nahuatl historical annals originally were not, as has been supposed, purely linear texts recounting the history of a single altepetl, but rather, constructions based on an accumulation of cellular contributions from multiple subentities. Historical truth was understood to require multiple perspectives.
Research Article| October 01 2009
Camilla Townsend; Glimpsing Native American Historiography: The Cellular Principle in Sixteenth-Century Nahuatl Annals. Ethnohistory 1 October 2009; 56 (4): 625–650. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2009-024
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