Libana, a Zapotec word for persuasive, rhetorical speech and writing, is the unifying theme for this study of Dominican friars' missionary texts in Oaxacan languages. Building on a growing body of scholarship examining Spanish adaptations of Mesoamerican literary traditions in pursuit of conversion, Nancy M. Farriss expands the geographical scope of such studies to Oaxaca. In a region with few surviving postconquest texts that replicate the region's pre-Columbian literary traditions, Farriss posits that the best surviving sources of Oaxacan indigenous rhetoric are the writings of Dominicans who sought to convert the region's multiethnic indigenous population with familiar tropes. Indeed, during the colonial era the term libana also applied to Christian sermons produced by friars.

With limited extant examples of Zapotec-authored colonial texts written in the same style of high rhetoric evident in the Nahuas' huehuetlatolli, or “the words of the...

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