Joaquín Galarza, Chargé de Recherches to the National Center of Scientific Research of Paris, Assistant of the Museum of Man and of the French Archaeological and Ethnological Mission to Mexico, has published four other books of interpretations and one index on Aztec pictographic manuscripts. The present volume is an exhaustive study of six lienzos (linen or cotton cloth made from the maguey or the palm icxotl on which drawings were painted) recently discovered in the small mountain village of Chiepetlan in the State of Guerrero, Mexico.

The textual material of 264 pages is divided into two parts. The first part, entitled “Pictographic Sources,” presents six sections, one for each lienzo which is individually described regarding its state of preservation, style, method of work, verification, and meaning. The thematic contents of Lienzos I, II, and III are carefully examined and the elements are painstakingly separated, thus producing glyphs of personal names, and glyphs representing religion (temples), economics (houses of tribute collectors), and geography (place names). Lienzos IV, V, and VI differ from the others in that IV is a single painting of a cactus plant in a glyph style that is representative of Tenochtitlan, while V and VI reflect the influence of Spain and Austria and are heraldic in nature. The second part, entitled “Sources in Latin Characters,” is composed of five documents: one is a 1799 copy of a pictographic manuscript with Nahuatl characters, four are Spanish documents based upon court cases and decisions regarding geographic locations and land ownership. These public documents are recorded and carefully compared with the lienzos, using a series of tables listing place names, personal names, and other elements found in the lienzos and giving cross references to the same elements as found in the Spanish documents. In this manner the “Sources in Latin Characters” section is used to aid in checking and confirming the information found in the lienzos.

In 217 un-numbered pages comprising a “Section of Plates and Photos,” Galarza presents a color photograph and a schematic drawing of each lienzo, locating and numbering each element and glyph of the painting. The various elements and glyphs are then separated, drawn, and catalogued as warriors, nobles, place names, personal names, religious elements, economic elements, ambassadors, and finally as groups. This valuable section also contains useful maps of the area of Guerrero and of Chiepetlan.

Galarza believes the central theme of these documents to be the penetration of the Aztecs into the territory of the semi-barbaric Tlapaneques. The lienzos suggest that penetration was initially a peaceful infiltration, but, in time, it became one of war and diplomatic negotiations. The volume is a masterful treatment, and a contribution which will be a valuable source for those interested in the study of Mexican lienzos and Aztec imperialism.