Material technology played a key role in the making of indigenous maps. This article analyzes the use of ink to explore the chemical and botanical practices used by native painters and Spanish officials to make and authenticate maps. This underexamined aspect of indigenous cartography enhances our understanding of a painter's technical skills, allowing us to gain insight into the complex process of selecting and preparing a variety of organic and inorganic ingredients to illustrate them. Spanish scribes and regional judges used their own formulas to make ink, applying the liquid substance to review and annotate maps to fit legal protocols. Combining a sample of maps from Oaxaca with botanical histories, chronicles, and orthographic treatises, this article traces the use of ingredients such as rocks, plants, liquids, roots, and soil as they made their way from the physical world to the hands of an Indian painter or a Spanish official who skillfully transformed them into ink. The interaction between different substances contributed to the distinct style and function of indigenous mapmaking.
Skip Nav Destination
Alexander Hidalgo; How to Map with Ink: Cartographic Materials from Colonial Oaxaca. Ethnohistory 1 April 2014; 61 (2): 277–299. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2414172
Download citation file: