In circa 1550, an indigenous mapmaker painted a watercolor of viceregal Mexico City and its environs. The Uppsala Map has long been a source for examining social life in the Basin of Mexico, yet its description of the city has been one less studied. This essay scrutinizes the mapmaker's graphic commentary on the viceregal capital. In particular, it studies how a narrative figure's corporeal expressions and optic interest presented the city for examination. A formal analysis of the map suggests that the city's traza (urban plan) was not spatially unitary, a point under-scored by the actas de cabildo, or municipal decrees, mandated. These demonstrate anxiety over spatial irregularity, which in the opinion of the city council threatened the city's policía (the virtue of living a Christian way of life within an ordered settlement). Lastly, this essay situates the Uppsala Map within the cartographic milieu of the Spanish Atlantic world through a study of cartographic elements that closely resemble those found in Alonso de Santa Cruz's 1542 world map.
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John F. López; Indigenous Commentary on Sixteenth-Century Mexico City. Ethnohistory 1 April 2014; 61 (2): 253–275. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2414163
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