This article investigates two local coinages used in notarial documents, especially wills and real estate sales contracts, in urban early colonial Peru: the “indio solarero” and the “indio criollo.” These terms, apparently invented by the indigenous parties or with their approval, suggest that these residents were inventing new roles for themselves and took pains to bring attention to their new social positions as property-owners (“solarero,” or owner of a solar), Spanish speakers, Catholics, and city dwellers (“criollo,” or born in the city rather than in a rural community). The indigenous men and women who utilized these terms had accumulated some of the social markers of colonial success—real estate, slaves, imported clothing, language, religion—and while they may have been few in number and unlikely to turn their world upside down, they saw themselves as having achieved according to the new standards that they embraced, whether slightly or wholeheartedly. By identifying and understanding the idiosyncratic language they used to identify themselves (as opposed to labels such as “Indian” placed upon them by outsiders), the article approaches the possibility of gaining access to the mentalité of these urban colonial residents.

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