Scholars Reveal Mysteries of Rare Mexican Document at Holzheimer Lecture

April 2, 2014

Michel Oudijk and Sebastián van Doesburg, both of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, will present the 2014 Arthur Holzheimer “Maps and America” lecture on Thursday, April 10, 2014 in the American Geographical Society Library, located on the east wing third floor of the Golda Meir Library.

The subject of their presentation is the Tira de Santa Catarina Ixtepeji—a colonial-era Mexican document so rare that until two years ago experts had only hints of its existence.

The Tira (Spanish for strip of paper or [comic] strip), dated 1691, had been acquired by the American Geographical Society of New York around 1917 and its importance in Zapotec history was recently rediscovered after examination by a Marquette history professor.

Approximately 7 feet long and 20 inches wide, the document features hand-painted images and text in Spanish and the indigenous Zapotec language, and functioned as a kind of deed, as well as a genealogy of the village of Santa Catarina Ixtepeji in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.

Detail from Ixtepeji ScrollOudijk and van Doesburg are scholars of the Zapotec language, and they had been searching for years for the tira, known to them only through academic reports and an old photograph of the corner of the document.

Since the tira’s re-emergence, both men have traveled to Milwaukee to research it in depth. At their talk, they will present their findings and place the document in the context of colonial Mexico.

“The Ixtepeji Scroll: Mapping the Cultural Landscape of a Zapotec Noble Lineage” will be presented at 6 p.m. with a reception preceding the talk at 5:30 p.m. The AGS Library is located on the third floor, east wing of the UWM Golda Meir Library building, 2311 E. Hartford Ave.

For more information or special needs, please call 414-229-6282.

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