The first edition of Chinchilla’s book numbering some two thousand copies came out in 1963. There must be a wide interest in the art of Guatemala, for the present edition now amounts to five thousand. But there is little to distinguish the first from the second edition. The author rewrote the last chapter, changed the illustration decorating the paper cover, and added a few illustrations in the text. Both editions are published on newsprint, including the illustrations, which are reproduced with half-tone cuts as in the daily press. The resulting grubby appearance is inexcusable since an art book should at least try to be a work of art. But it is also an apt reflection of the state of affairs in present-day Guatemala, especially of the official point of view, since the book was published by the Ministerio de Educación. It certainly deserved better treatment, if for no other reason than that it represents a first attempt to treat the history of art in Guatemala from its beginnings in the sixteenth century to the present. The book is not intended for the scholar, but it can be recommended to those who wish to read a general survey of the development of Guatemalan art.
The second book, Tejidos de los altiplanos de Guatemala, is a belated Spanish translation of the late Lila Morris O’Neale’s Textiles of Highland Guatemala (Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication 567, Washington, D. C., 1945). In format the present Spanish edition is but a pale shadow of the original, especially so with regard to the line drawings. These drawings along with the other illustrations in the original constituted an important scholarly apparatus for understanding the discussion in the text. The drawings in this edition have been greatly reduced in size, probably by photocopying those in the original volume. According to the editor the other illustrations will appear later in a separate volume.
The field work on which this book is based was done between March 1 and the middle of July 1936. Unfortunately the textiles and their manufacturing process of that day, so aptly described by the author, are mostly moribund if not already dead and extinct in present-day Guatemala. Accordingly the book may now be considered as an archaeological report which an excavator might make after destroying a site in order to study it. Time and circumstances have obliterated the indigenous crafts as Mrs. O’Neale knew them thirty years ago.
The Seminario de Integración Social of the Ministerio de Educación is to be congratulated for having published the Spanish edition, and Edith Recourat is to be admired for the fortitude and the labor she expended in the arduous task of translating a highly technical work such as this. But for American scholars it would be better to resort to the original if for no other reason than the superior line drawings and the photographic illustrations.