Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates, , at sacred-texts.com
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These form a volume of 160 pages of signed and dated documents, running continuously from 1608 to the end of the Spanish rule, 1817. In the middle of the volume are four items of outstanding importance for our knowledge of the history of western Yucatan, and which should particularly be included here in detail, in connection with the preceding translation of Bishop Landa's work. That we may treat them separately, they may be numbered as follows:
1: A genealogical tree showing the members of the Xiu family, from the Tutul Xiu, born about 1380, who led the family from Uxmal to Maní after the destruction of Mayapán in 1420, down to Juan Xiu, who became head of the family in 1640, and died about 1690.
2: Two pages of text in Maya, dated 1557, relating the gathering of various representatives at Maní, for the settlement of boundaries of their lands and towns, and those of their neighbors, the Cocomes, the Canules, those of Calotmul, Maxcanú, etc.
3: A map, here reproduced as drawn from the original, on a double-page sheet, to go with the preceding, certified, text.
4: A single page, signed by Juan Xiu in 1685, and stating that it was taken by him from a record in "carácteres." This page gives a number of events, with attached dates from 1533 (the year after Montejo's departure for Mexico after his first, unsuccessful, attempt at the conquest of Yucatan) down to 1545, and set out in terms of both the Maya and our European chronology. This page, after being for many years known, ignored, studied, criticised and rejected as a base for a correlation of Maya and European dates, has at last through the work and researches of J. Eric Thompson and the late Dr. John E. Teeple, been accepted as our one confirmed and authoritative base point; it has been so acknowledged by, we believe, every American writer save one, and also the leading Yucatecan scholar, Senor Juan Martinez H., of Mérida.
This volume of papers was sent to me over twenty years ago to photograph for my own use, and as an addition to my collection of original material, but nothing of it has heretofore been published save Item 4, as to be noted later below. The volume thus brings before us, brought out within the scope of their family history from 1380 to the present time, a stretch of 450 documented years, the five chief outstanding figures therein: the Tutul Xiu of Uxmal; that Ahpulhá Napot Xiu who led the dramatic and ill-fated pilgrimage in 1536 to invoke divine aid for a cessation of the drought that coincided with the end of the first Spanish attempt; the Kukum Xiu, Lord of Maní, who voluntarily came to join himself as feudatory to the Spanish as a result of the breach between the East and West that began with the destruction of Mayapán and came to its climax at Otzmal in 1536, one of its first results having been the re-erection of the Itzá state at Tayasal on Lake Petén (lasting as the one remaining independent native state until 1695, just ten
years after Juan Xiu wrote our Item 4); Naxiu Chi, a Xiu on his mother's side, who having married the great-great-granddaughter of Tutul Xiu of Uxmal, was baptised Gaspar Antonio, and became one of Landa's chief informants in the Relation we have herein translated; finally the most important later member, the Juan of 1685.
For clearer reading the names written on the several 'blossoms' are replaced by numbers, and the names corresponding are given below, by their generations, the better to show the kinships:
1: Tutul Xiu.
2a: Ah-tzun Xiu; 2b: Ah-uitz Xiu.
3a: Ah-op Xiu; 3b: Ah-cetz Xiu; 3c: Ah-uitz; 3d: Ah-kauil Xiu; 3e: Ah-cuat Xiu; 3f: Ah-uitz Xiu.
4a: Napol Xiu; 4b: Ah-kukil Xiu; 4c: Ah-tzam Xiu; 4d: Ah-lol Xiu; 4e: Ah-atira Xiu; 4f: Ah-uitz Xiu.
5a: Ah-ziyah Xiu, Yacman; 5b: don Diego Xiu, Tikit; 5c: don Juan Xiu; 5d: Ah-tzulub Xiu, grandfather of don Francisco Pacab, Ox-kutzcab; 5e: Ah-uitz Xiu; 5f: Ah-mochan Xiu; 5g: Nabatun Xiu; 5h: Ah-chac Xiu, Panabá.
6a: Melchor Xiu; 6b: Montexo Xiu, gor Maní, husband of doña Maria Xiu; 6c: Ah-tzam Xiu; 6d: Ah-op Xiu; 6e: doña Maria Xiu; Calotmul, wife of Montexo Xiu; 6f: Ixkaual Xiu, wife of Gaspar Antonio; 6g: Ixkaual Xiu; 6h: Ah . . . .; 6i: Ah-pitz Xiu; 6j: Ah-tzun Xiu; 6k: Nacahun Xiu; 6l: Ah-ziyah Xiu; 6m: Ah-kukil Xiu; 6n: Ah-cuate Xiu; 6o: don Alonso Xiu, Tikit; 6p: Nanachan Xiu.
7a: don Francisco Xiu, son of don Melchor; 7b: Nabtu (?) Xiu; 7e: don . . . . Xiu.
8: Pedro Xiu, son of Francisco, govr Oxkutzcab.
9a: don . . . . o Xiu; 9b: . . . . o;
10: don Juan Xiu, son of Alonso Xiu.
In tabular form it reads:
The last five names, from Francisco to Juan, are in darker ink, and the calix of the flowers differently drawn. The Tree was clearly made in the time of Melchor and Montejo, probably in 1548, and then completed by Juan, as shown by the pointing hand. While the tear in the leaf has taken nearly all of the circle for Alonso, the entries as above are not only clear, but are positively confirmed in the first of the coming documents; the two names between Francisco and Juan must be those of Pedro and Alonso; also the separate circle at the extreme left must have sprung from Pedro, representing a brother of Alonso, not otherwise mentioned.
No Spanish baptismal names occur before the fifth generation, of people old at the time of the Conquest; here we find Diego of Tekit, and Juan the father of Maria of Calotmul, the wife of (Kukum) Montejo. Probably these four were all baptised at once, in 1548.
The only Spanish names we find in the sixth generation are those of Maria, Montejo and Melchor, the ancestor of the whole following line to which these Papers belong. But here we also find Ixkaual, wife to Gaspar Antonio, and her first cousin, one Ah-tzun, who is probably the famous Ahpulhá who died at Otzmal in 1536.
The 1685 page by Juan Xiu, while describing the Otzmal event and those killed there, does not name the leader as 'Napot Xiu,' as he is elsewhere called; it only reads:
Ah-tzun simply meaning 'leader,' these probably refer to the same person.
The direct line, arranged in order of primogeniture, then reads:
The births of the sixth generation must have fallen about 1500; Kukum must have been he who surrendered to Montejo on his arrival at Tiho, was baptised in 1548 as Francisco de Montejo Xiu, and was thereafter governor of Maní, the halach-vinic at whose house took place the gathering in 1557, to
be later described. In 1608 Francisco, then governor of Oxkutzcab, signed the oldest document surviving in our volume, confirming his "son Pedro" as cacique of Yaxa Cumché, in the Oxkutzcab district.
Alonso, "son of Pedro," succeeds him at Yaxa in 1624, and in 1632 Catalina Chili of Pencuyut is granted exemptions as "widow of Alonso"; his rights are also referred to in papers dated 1657, 1660. Then Juan, with his sisters Maria and Petrona, are certified in 1640 as "children of Alonso and grandchildren of Pedro"; and again so mentioned in a paper dated at Tekax in 1641.
This is the Juan Xiu to whom we owe the famous page above mentioned, establishing the correlation of the chronologiesour Item 4. His long and prominent record includes:
The Tree thus gives us eleven names in the direct line, from the Tutul Xiu from whose loins spring all the others, down to Juan, or about 26 years to a generation from the birth of the first to that of Juan's successor, in 1661. To follow the lineage beyond the Tree and Juan Xiu, we must turn to the body of documents in the volume, where we get an overlapping of the data on the Tree (Pedro, Alonso and Juan appearing in each), and then six successors to Juan, down to Antonio, who is shown as the family head in the last paper, 1817, as follows:
Here our documents cease, but nevertheless leaving us at the very bottom of the last list the names of Andres, born in 1788, and Bentura, born in 1814, and thus again overlapping, by these two names, the oral information gotten over a hundred years after tie papers ceased, from very old surviving descendants, who remembered Andres and Bentura as the grandfather and father of Bernabe, born in 1839 and dying in 1911. This volume of family papers, after passing through the hands of all these family heads for over 300 years, from at least 1608 down to Bernabe, was still intact in his possession a couple of years before his death, when (as stated in a letter from Sylvanus Morley to me in 1920) it "was stolen, bought or received from Bernabe Xiu." *
The final links were then made when given to me on a visit to Oxkutzcab in the autumn of 1917, by old Doña Felipa, daughter of Bernabe and mother of young Nicomedes Xiu, 1896- ; and further confirmed the next Spring by Morley in Ticul in the little three-year old Dionisio, the last Xiu XXIII, in the direct male line, as below:
The Tree itself as it stands is thus wholly such as might have been drawn up in England about the year 1160 to show the descendants of Sir So-and-So, who had led his troop with William of Normandy; and then with additions made another hundred years later by the then head of the family, to bring the line down to himself; and then supplemented by a continued documentary register to the present day.
We must here picture the Yucatan states as consisting of the halach-vinic, or 'true man,' at the head, then the almehenob (a compound meaning 'sons of a mother and father,' and exactly corresponding to the Spanish hidalgo, or 'son of somebody'), and finally the vinicob or common folk. As confirmed by what we find in our Item 2 and the other documents in the volume, this patent of nobility must have been drawn in the time of Francisco de Montejo Xiu on the occasion of his baptism and recognition as feudatory to the Spanish Crown, in 1548.
At the bottom we see reclining the Tutul Xiu who first established the capital at Maní; then his descendants as seen in the table, ending with our Juan Xiu of Item 4, with a hand pointing to his own name, as the extreme left. In the lower left we see remaining the lettersn .tzil chac ume . . . ob Tutul Xiu. Mehenob denoting descendants in the male line, this makes a sort of title: "The growth of the descendants of Tutul Xiu." And then just below this we find at the torn edge of the paper a clearly distinguishable part of the Maya sign for the day Ahau, over a black dot (the right-hand one of an original three), and the words,au katun loe. That can only stand for "this, the katun 3 Ahau," meaning in the usual style of the Chronicles, an event that happened in the katun or 20-year period ending on a day 3 Ahau, a date that only recurs once in 260 years.
Now as finally established, thanks to our Item 4, the katun 3 Ahau ended in 1382, which fixes the 'root of the tree,' as that ruler or 'leader of the Xius to their new capital,' as stated by Landa and confirmed by the entries in the Maya Chronicles themselves, about 120 to 125 years before the coming of the Spaniards to Mérida.
The entire volume, outside of the four special items noted, consists of documents in both Maya and Spanish, attesting the succession in headship, births, and membership in the Xiu family. The first three attest the legitimacy, recognized headship and privileges of Pedro in 1608, Alonso "son of Pedro" in 1624, Juan and his sisters "children of Alonzo and grandchildren of Pedro" in 1640.
In these Spain followed the universal custom of conquering or expanding empires, allowing to the local chieftains or rulers as full a measure of their former headship and privileges as possible, subject to, and in proportion to their degree of recognition of political suzerainty, the right to economic exploitation and support, and as necessary incident, the social recognition of the new masters as 'superior beings.' Thus did in succession the Romans,
the British, the Dutch, and others, the degree and nature of the resulting dominance over the acquired 'subjects' depending on the nature or character, plus the real or professed purposes of the 'occupation.'
Ancient Rome, Holland, Britain sought the spread of empire and trade, and leaving the essentials of life, religion and local customs, as nearly untouched as possible; giving in return protection. The occupied lands, in most cases the field of destructive internecine wars such as would be the case in India today save for the handful of Indian regiments protecting both the raj and the people, lost superior suzerainty (actually non-existent in the country) in exchange for the order of a firm administration. To the common man one far distant Emperor is the same as another, so long as the currents of local life go along and the customs and 'gods of our fathers' are respectedwhether the ryot, the fellahin or the masehual be in Ceylon, Egypt or Mexico. The emperor may then be Akbar in Delhi, Edward in London, or Charles in Spain; the only further thing asked is that he protect the defenseless people from the wanton murders, tortures, rapings and burnings of the foreign 'public enemies' set loose among them. If this is not done, the work of the Diego de Landas and the Pedro de Alvarados will only breed revolts that must end either in total annihilation as in Cuba, or in final freedom, however late.
To these demands Spain however added that of enforced conversions to Christianity and the "blessings of European civilization" (as professed by others today in their thirst for conquest), all "by the divine command" that justifies all 'necessary' means to save men from the eternal hell ordained by God for those who cannot recognize his image of peace and love in the autos de fé and the hangingsescapable however by humbleness and gold.
Yet these people even in the later days, of the Sixteenth Century, were higher in polity, science and all that really makes civilization, than the invaderswho only had gunpowder, horses, lusts, and (heaven save the mark) the Cross. In these words lies the whole story of the lands south of us, where now in these last ten years only, is the long debt to the Indian race beginning to be paid by seeking to make him once more a free working citizen of his own country, educated in the things that lead to economic prosperity for the individual, the local community, and the State. For Mexico is today making the Indian again a 'man'while we in this country manufacture and offer him roseate white-man's plans for his anthropological welfare instead of liberty; keep him against his helpless will the slave of the most generations-long intrenched bureaucracy in our whole log-rolling system, that wastes, and worse, his property, while we decimate him by our imported immoralities, and exploitations.
Returning to our documents. These form an interesting and informative picture of the course of events in Yucatan from the surrender of Kukum Xiu, the Lord of Maní, in 1541. Through that century and the next, down to and including Juan Xiu, the papers are in the form first above referred to. They constituted the official investiture of the local head of his own district and people, who thus continued to look to him as "their immediate halach-vinic," with things going fairly peacefully and thus of easier administration, save for the constant troubles caused by Landa and his Franciscans, and army bandits like Pacheco on the east coast. That the population of the districts decreased at a rate almost as great as that of the Missions in California (roughly 100% each ten years so long as yet more Indians remained in the unconverted back country to be brought in to receive the blessings of working for the whites for their 'welfare'), as testified to, and complained of by many of the original company of Montejo's soldiers, among whom the lands of the whole state were divided. (See the documents at the end of this volume, for 1549, 1579 and 1581.) The causes were regularly: sickness by change of their old ways, forcible concentration into single town centers where church instruction was more convenient, and flight into the back forests to escape the constant individual cases of oppression, etc. Nevertheless the political system of recognizing as part of the local state government the members of the old ruling caste, of 'hidalgo' standing, persisted (as it still does in the heavily Indian highland regions of Guatemala today) until the death of Juan Xiu about 1690, after a practical headship of his family for over fifty years, from. the death of his father in 1632.
At this time a very definite change in the character of the Spanish occupation began, to pave the way for the first great uprising of the Mayas for freedom at Cisteil in 1731, to which hidden references are undoubtedly to be found in the veiled language of the Chumayel manuscript. A marked surge of Hispanic activity springs up in many lines, both literary and physical.
As one goes today through Yucatan one meets at every town of any size a tremendous dominating 'Rhine castle' of stone, taken from the ancient palaces and temples by Indian labor, to erect towering churches. Many of these have dated lintels, which run from about 1690 to 1720, when Yucatan ceased to be merely 'occupied' by the encomendero families under the Montejo grants to his seventy odd soldiers, and the full weight of the new order settled in place.
At this same time there began a definite literary change: the voluminous histories came on to be written, by Cogolludo for Yucatan, Villagutierre on the final conquest of the last Itzá kingdom at Lake Petén, Torquemada's Monarquía Indiana for Mexico, Fuentes y Guzmán for Guatemala. In 1710 Padre Ximénez found, copied and translated the Popol Vuh, the magnificent
[paragraph continues] Quiché story of cosmogony, mythology and history; at the same time writing his long history, trilingual dictionary and grammars, and his treatise on the natural history.
The first students of the native languages, in the 16th century, set down the native languages as they found them, and did it marvelously well; what was done in that time and up to about 1650, is worth everything we have of later date, even up to now in our own boasted era of sciolistic anthropologism. In the 17th century amplified studies and grammars were written, departing little from the spirit of the languages as they still stood, nearly untouched save that they were no longer the languages of an active native culture, but relegated to the submerged class. Then in the 18th century after the passing of its first generation, a conscious Hispanization began on every side, in every way.
This affected the form of our documents of hidalguía, and resulted in more or less vagueness in the details, only, of the Xiu primogeniture. Roque Xiu passes out of our picture, and his step-brother Juan Antonio must have succeeded to headship on Juan's death, but we have no specific confirming document. Up to and including Juan, each new document was a confirmation of the rights and position of the succeeding heir, "legitimate son of" his predecessor; but beginning with Salvador we have only papers confirming the leading elders and those of their family name, as hidalgos, and entitled to the privileges of such quality: that is, services and contributions from their own people, but probably no part in the governmental set-up. Also, from 1727 on the papers do not tell us who is the son of whom, and we thus have to deduce the direct line by the prominence given to the successor, at the head of those named as recognized Xius. That Salvador was in fact the "son of Juan Antonio Xiu and Pasquala Ku" we only know from his baptismal certificate, in 1697; in 1759 he was still alive, among those named; then Lorenzo, "the old man," heads the list in 1764, and is still among them in 1771.
At this time, as the spirit of liberty was stirring in the United States and in France, we have still another change in the style of our papers; most fortunately for our present purpose, as it resulted in our final bridge to the present. This final, very condensed form, then lasted until 1817, when colonial (but not Maya) freedom was ushered in. This form undertakes to give a list of all living Xius, men, women, and boys of any age, the actual age of the youngest being added. From 1779 to 1793 Pablo Xiu heads the list, then Pedro from 1801 to 1812, and Antonio in 1817. And then almost all baptismal records through the State having perished in the war of 1847, when the Mayas nearly regained the peninsula, we are without direct evidence of the parentage of these last. But, as told above, from the first Pedro in
[paragraph continues] 1608, and the Tree, these are the continuous family records of the Xius of Maní and Oxkutzcab, from the time Mayapán was destroyed and they abandoned Uxmal; and also they did remain undisturbed in the possession of the succeeding heads in Oxkutzcab, until about 1910.
For here comes our last piece of good fortune; since just as the first Pedro appears both on the Tree and in the documents, so in the last Pedro's lists we are told that Andres was a boy "1 year old" in 1788, and again "4 years old in 1793." And then finally, in the last paper of all, we are told that Bentura was 3 years old in 1817.
Now Bentura's son Bernabe Xiu, who loaned the papers to Consul Thompson, died in 1911, but his younger sister Felipa still lived when the present writer visited the town in 1917; also other elder Xius when Morley followed in 1918, as related in his letters of that time. As told above, these old people remembered back to Andres and Bentura, and from them this final gap was filled, to be completed by the gathering then by Morley and myself, separately, of the later data, and the present names of the living: a complete record from Katun 3 Ahau to Century XX.
Here also seems the place for the duties laid upon Juan Xiu in 1665, incident to his appointment by Francisco de Esquivel, royal councillor and Governor and Captain General of Yucatan, to serve for one year, as the local governor of Oxkutzcab.
In this office, he shall exalt the royal justice in said town and its confines, shall care for all matters pertaining to said office, administering and doing justice in conformity with the royal ordinances, defending the widows, common people and the poor from the powerful, or from other persons also who may unjustly oppress them, remitting to us all such matters as we should be advised of.
Item: He shall take great care to see that the Indians attend to bear mass on Sundays and the other prescribed days, and to the preaching of the Holy Christian Gospel (punishing those who without cause fail in this); and that they respect its ministers as their spiritual fathers.
Item: That each family shall live in a separate house, even when near relations; that they keep it clean and in good repair, with a Cross or image of Our Lord and his Holy Mother; with rosaries, couches, mats, hens, cocks, and the other things required by the Ordinances.
Item: That he take care that order and the Spanish way of government be observed; that the streets lead properly to the church, and that the houses and wells of the town be kept repaired.
Item: That inasmuch as the milpa to be cultivated for the town in commonalty is essential and necessary, I command that he take great care that it be properly sown, harvested and stored, and not consumed except in accordance with the royal decrees.
Item: That care is taken that the Indians of the town stay in it without permitting them to live away on ranches, milpas or work-places; that no Indians of other towns be allowed unless already married in their own town; that he make a list of all returning Indians and of these who go off into the bush, in conformity with the dispatches and orders I have remitted, rendering account of this within four months, as commanded by the decrees.
Item: That he take care that the Indians of his town shall work each in his calling, shall care for the milpas, sowing 60 mecates of corn, as well as beans, chile, squash, yuccas, cotton and cacao, as they have them; that in the patios and gardens of their houses they shall plant chayas, bananas and other fruit-trees, with such other things as the earth produces; that each have near his house a granary for storage of said edibles, and they go on supporting themselves therewith, and their wives and children; failing in which they shall be punished in proportion to the fault.
Item: It is commanded that he cause the Indians to work in the spinning and weaving of articles for the tribute, together with the maize and the chickens called for by the tax regulations; that payment in money is prohibited except in the specified cases, in order that laziness be avoided, and that prices do not go down in the pursuit of money.
Item: The said governor shall not procure the cultivation of milpas of maize, beans, cotton or other products, nor the distribution of money or other payments for the things the Indians gather or make for the Encomendero or other persons, under pain of deprivation of his office for four years. He shall see to it that the tribute is paid punctually to the Encomendero, in the mantles, maize and chickens prescribed.
Item: Inasmuch as it is prohibited the local governors of this province to negotiate. contract or procure assignments of Indians for different people; also prohibited the judges any aggressions on the milpas with the consequent injury to the Indians and harm to the province thereby; it is ordered that the said governors and judges accept no money or other thing for making such assignments of the Indians, and all persons are forbidden to make such collections in their name to that end, under pain of privation of their offices, of 200 blows, and of banishment from the pueblo.
Item: I order that that he permit the Indians as to everything they produce beyond the amount of the tribute, with their gatherings of wax, honey, cochineal and fruits, a free sale by them in the town, or in the city and villages of Campeche and Valladolid, to whomever will pay them best, to the end that they may have money for their needs and the things they require for apparel.
Item: Having been informed that at times when orders go for wet-nurses solicited by different persons, it has been the custom to seize poor women lately widowed or abandoned by their husbands with their three, four or five infants, I order that none such be sent except after a half year of widowhood or with one or two infants, who shall accompany them, and not be left uncared for, that they may give breast to their own, and in the house of their nearest relative; it being further required of the judges to have them returned within a year and a half.
Item: Since it is so disposed that the governor, in order properly to discharge his duties, does not himself cultivate his milpa, but that a milpa of 70 mecates of the commonalty be farmed for him; and since I am advised that many governors have enforced the cultivation for themselves of large tracts, all which abuses and corruptions should be reformed, I order and command that no more than the above 70 mecates be so cultivated, and no more than this amount of produce be stored for them, and the weekly service thereto be observed during his term of office. The said governor shall not require any more to be done for him, even under the pretext of paying for it, under pain of loss of office for four years and banishment ten leagues away from the pueblo.
Item: Being advised that many aggravations and extortions are practised by those trading and dealing in the towns, oppressing those poor and miserable, taking them off as muleteers and in service, I order that the present governor shall not during his term of office engage in business or trade, nor molest any Indian, nor take them from their houses for the like purposes, under the same penalties.
I therefore command that the alcades, regidores and other principal Indians of the said town of Oxkutzcab receive as their Governor the said don Juan Xiu, that they obey, esteem and respect him, keep and cause to be kept all the honors, graces and exceptions, and the prerogatives which belong to him by said office, doing nothing in contravention thereof, under pain of the due prosecution for such disobedience; that he present himself under this title before the town Council and the Cabildo, making the proclamation thereof to all the Indians of the said pueblo, for their information of what is ordained, as in the book of communities.
DON JUAN FRANCISCO DE ESQUIVEL, (rubric)
Dated in Mérida this 12th of September, 1665.
125:* In confirmation of this I can add the following, from my own visit of 1917. Having already, as stated above, made a full photographic copy of the Xiu volume, and later translating it, I spoke of this to Doña Felipa and others of the family. At once they said: "Oh señor, cannot you get back for us these papers? They belong to us; they are the records of our ancestors that have been in our possession from back of the time that we can remember. But a few years ago Don Bernabe loaned them to (as we thought) our 'good friend' Don Eduardo Thompson, and we have never been able to get him to return them. Cannot you get them for us?"
But, soon after the 'borrowing,' Don Eduardo had sold them in the United States, where they still remain, in the 'keeping' of a certain institution. One feels quite permitted to ask, what would a Mayflower or Virginia descendant feel if his family papers, records not half as ancient, and not even of royal caste, had been borrowed by a Xiu, and sold as just interesting historical recordsto the local Museum in Mérida?