In 1789 don Ignacio Mazihcatzin, the Indian pastor of Yehualtepec, commissioned noted regional artist José Manuel Yllanes to do a set of oil paintings for his parish church. As a formal record of inquiry and approval between don Ignacio and the bishop of Puebla, the document includes depositions about the prospective paintings and watercolor sketches of them. From this material, art historian Cuadriello reconstructs both mythic and historic events in Tlaxcala's collective memory, providing an extensively contextualized study of art, society, religion, and history in eighteenth-century New Spain.
In its broad scope, the book reaches far beyond a mere deciphering of the symbolism of iconic images to provide a new social history of art for colonial Mexico. It will appeal to art historians, historians of colonial Latin America, and scholars interested in how indigenous communities took the initiative, through a mythic and prophetic discourse, to negotiate and claim their own place within New Spain.
Reacting to the rising numbers of mixed-blood (Spanish-Indian-Black African) people in its New Spain colony, the eighteenth-century Bourbon government of Spain attempted to categorize and control its colonial subjects through increasing social regulation of their bodies and the spaces they inhabited. The discourse ofcalidad(status) andraza(lineage) on which the regulations were based also found expression in the visual culture of New Spain, particularly in the unique genre ofcastapaintings, which purported to portray discrete categories of mixed-blood plebeians.