Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coatequitl (labor tribute) again

Here are a few more illustrations of labor tribute (see my previous post for the context here). I love Aztec codices, both for their information content and for their graphical style. Both are from the Codex Kingsborough, an account of encomienda tribute in the decades immediately following the Spanish conquest of 1521.

The first illustration shows the labor tribute paid by two towns, Mazahuacan and Caltecoya (the toponyms are in the left register). The clothing signals these guys as macehualli (commoners), and the digging stick indicates that this is coatequitl labor. Mazahuacan supplied one hundred laborers everh 80 days. The flag stands for 20, which is multiplied by the five dots. We know the period of collection from some latin words written on the document. Caltecoya was responsible for 40 workers, at the same schedule. Perhaps the guy from Mazahuacan looks sadder than his colleague becuaes of the heavier burden on his town. This corvee labor is only part of each town's payment; there are also payments in goods.

The second illustration is part of a listing of tribute paid to local indigenous nobles. A number of small named groups were subject to each noble; this illustration shows three such groups (these were probalby calpolli). The top row has the toponyms, and the names are also written in European letters above the toponyms. Sorry, I can't read the glyphs OR the European script. The lower register has the number of laborers (note the diging sticks); these three groups paid 20, 15 and 15 workers respectively

I was in the library of the Colegio Mexiquense looking at the codex (our Calixtlahuaca lab is at the Colegio, where I have an affiliation), when I realized that it was published by the Colegio. So I went round the corner to the bookstore and bought a copy! For some discussion on the theoretical context of this kind of labor taxation, see my post, "A 'new' kind of agency theory."

Valle, Perla (editor)
1995 Códice de Tepetlaoztoc (Códice Kingsborough), Estado de México: Edición facsimilar. 2 vols. El Colegio Mexiquense, Toluca.

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