Libana proposes an inspired survey of the colonial catechetic corpus developed in Valley, Northern, and Isthmus Zapotec in New Spain by Dominicans and ecclesiastics, with assistance from anonymous native informants. Its title embraces a polysemic term encompassing elegant speech, sermons, and admonitions. Many of the fourteen or so extant colonial Zapotec doctrinal sources, many majestically dense, have been addressed in part by Thomas Smith-Stark, Michel Oudijk, Pam Munro, Aaron Broadwell, Brook Lillehaugen, this review’s author, and others. While Farriss does not address the entire corpus, she presents an erudite examination of Zapotec rhetoric and sheds much-needed light on two influential imprints, Pedro de Feria’s 1567 Doctrina and Cristóbal de Agüero’s 1666 Misceláneo. As translator, Farriss worked with Zapotec scholars, leaning particularly on Juana Vásquez Vásquez’s expertise.

The book’s seven chapters develop, with Farriss’s customary elegance, an argument that moves from Renaissance...

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