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[Otomí Manuscript on amate bark "paper"]

About the item

Square accordion format, handmade and handbound: 18 x 14 cm. 28 numbered "pages," all but two featuring cutouts of deities as issued. Both sides of the "accordion" with a pair of working metal snaps. Excellent condition. Amate bark manuscript SIGNED by the author / artist; in the preferred Pre-Columbian codex format (bound "accordion-style"); and dated Agosto 20, 1975 (not "1978"). This is an extraordinary hand-made Mexican book of Healing ritual that almost defies description. This "History of Ancient Cures" is written on the very material that is prescribed for curing ailments physical and spiritual, namely: amate bark "paper." The text describes its healing powers of amate bark paper, and gives recipes and spells in some detail. This particular book was created by Garcia Tellez in the style of a codex after Pre-Columbian models. He is one of three known Otomí from San Pablito who produced books, the other two being Antonio López M. and Santos García according to Sandstrom & Sandstrom, p. 88. The work is folded accordion-style on amate paper, with the Spanish text lettered by hand, and illustrated with amate bark paper cutout figures of deities. The paper for the pages and cutouts from the inner bark of the ficus tree and comes from the primary amate producing village, San Pablito, Pahuatlan (Puebla). The book itself is a manual of ritualist cures / mystical healing for diseases induced by witchcraft; included are potions derived from amati wood itself. The cutouts are figures from the indigenous mythology, including the Lords of the Night, Lords of the Mountain, and of the Nagual. The final pages describe rituals honoring Mother Earth, with offerings of native foods and the Christ Child with the burning of incense and wax. Such a book demonstrates the continuity of traditional practices of papermaking, book arts, and mystical healing in the everyday life of ancient and contemporary indigenous Mexican peoples. By definition, all MSS are unique, and even if the same work is recreated, as here, all will exhibit variations. Ours is significantly different from the MS reproduced in the Garcia Tellez "Ecrits" (2018), pp. 45-102, which -- for instance -- has three blank "pages" whereas ours has only two. Into some of the "Historia de la curacion de Antigua" MSS we have seen a sort of Anathema pasted inside the lower cover, not present in the "Ecrits" example or in ours. It is a remarkable fact that García Téllez’s daughter also helped construct the books; whereas the scribe of the two MSS is the same, Garcia Tellez's autograph does not appear the front cover of our MS; it is possible that his daughter was a co-creator. Of this work there are copies at Princeton, Chapel Hill, Univ. Chicago, Vanderbilt, Univ. of Utah, Claremont Colleges, Getty, UC Santa Barbara, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Berlin. This is by no means the only artist book by Alfonso Garcia Tellez. His career as a book artist and an ethnologist have been described in great detail by Pierre Déléage, "Les livres d’Alfonso García Téllez" in: Traverser. Chantier littéraire. Bois-Colombes: Carnets Livres, 2015, p. 118-129. Imitations of this book were subsequently created for the tourist trade by Alberto Garcia M. (sic) who replaced Tellez's name on the cover with his own. ADDED: A copy of "Witchcraft and pre-Columbian Paper / Brujerias y Papel Precolombino" by Bodil Christensen and Samuel Marti. Ediciones Euroamericanas, 88 pp. + index.ADDED: "Écrits: Manuscrits à miniatures otomi Alfonso Margarito García Téllez" (2018). 318 pp., profusely illustrated with reproductions of Garcia Tellez manuscripts, and extensive commentary. Paperback. As new. FURTHER LITERATURE: "Amate manuscripts of the Otomí of San Pablito, Puebla," Mexicon, Journal of Mesoamerican Studies – Revista sobre Estudios Mesoamericanos, Vol. XXXIV, Nr. 6, December 2012. Sandstrom, Alan R., and Pamela Effrein Sandstrom. Traditional Papermaking and Paper C
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Price
2,750 USD

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