Penn Library

CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas


Landa
Jay I. Kislak Foundation
Diego de Landa,
Relation des choses de Yucatan.

Edited & translated by the abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg.

Paris: Auguste Durand, 1864.

Only an abstract of Landa's original manuscript survives; this is the first printed edition of the abstract, published by the abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg, a French antiquarian who located, translated, and edited numerous manuscripts in the mid-19th century.

As the Franciscan Provincial in the Yucatan, Landa had seen in the Mayan Indians not simple converts to the true faith but duplicitious idolaters unable to surrender their attachments to a pagan past. In order to eradicate all vestiges of Mayan paganism, Landa sought to understand the nature of Mayan forms and ceremonies and their persistence. He brought in suspects for interrogation, instituted an Inquisition, and, in a spectacular auto-da-fé, destroyed thousands of "idols." For his troubles, Landa was recalled to Spain by his superiors. There he wrote his manuscript, probably for the benefit of future missionaries. The heart of the manuscript consists of Landa's long descriptions of the Maya calendar and its glyphs.

Colonial Fictions, Colonial Histories

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