icnopilli / icnopilt

maestas at ccwf.cc.utexas.edu maestas at ccwf.cc.utexas.edu
Fri May 25 17:25:47 UTC 2001

It may be difficult to approach this by looking at English language based
concepts of merit and may be more productive to consider Spanish and
Mexican Catholic approaches to "merecimiento". Because of the Catholic
overtones related to "merecimiento" it is based upon divine intervention
that is not as far removed culturally as attempts to get at merit through
an understanding of comparable Nahuatl concepts. In the Catholic Codexes
of Sahagun and Duran it appears as though both friars engage productively
in what Lockhart (1991) calls "Double Mistaken Identity" in which a
concept is used in ways similar enough to grant a semblance of mutual
understanding but in ways different enough to allow Nahuas and Spaniards
to continue along with minimal changes in their worldview. Perhaps there
are direct terms that were used to relate the Nahua and Spanish concepts
of "merit" that provide clues to understanding the points of difference
and similarity that allowed "Double Mistaken Identity" to function say in
conversion and educational processes or in the transition from Nahua to
Nahua-Spanish mixed forms of political and economic control, i.e. Altepetl
(Calpulli) system to Cabildo system.
To bring this closer to the present: Conchero Dance groups in Mexico and
the US have highlighted the concept of Merecimiento as a cornerstone for
spititual and community development of what many understand to be a modern
manifestation of Indigenous Mexican and Spanish mestizaje. Martha Stone
(1974) and Francis Toor (1948) describe this to a certain degree in Mexico
and Andres Segura (1973; 1980) and Maestas (1998) describe the spread of
these traditions into the US. It is possible also that MICCs website
www.mexicayotl.com may have access to some of these references and
additional information.
Enrique Maestas

On Wed, 23 May 2001, Gingerich Willard P. wrote:
 > Any consideration of Nahua ideas of merit must also look at the =
 > concept-clusters in the Florentine, especially Bk VI, around occurrences =
 > of the phrase in iilhuil in imaceual [A & D translate "the desert, the =
 > merit" (poss.)], and in iilhuil, in imaceual, in inemac (A & D: "the =
 > desert, the merit, the lot" of someone: 198 & 203). Also note icnoiotl =
 > ilhuil, inemac iez (A & D: "misery will be his desert, his lot": 198).
 > Chapter 36, describing the consultation with in tonalpouhque, in =
 > tlamatinime on the occasion of a birth, is an especially intense =
 > meditation on the interactions of tonalli, birth, personal destiny, =
 > behavior, and merit.
 > Chapter 20 is another intense discourse on misery, merit and mercy: in =
 > icnonemiliztli, in nepechtecaliztli: ioan in nenomaiximachiliztli, inic =
 > uellamachtilo in teteo, ioan in tlalticpac tlaca (A&D: "the humble life, =
 > the bowing, the knowledge of one's self in order to be pleasing to the =
 > gods and to man": 105). Humility and the knowledge of self which misery =
 > and suffering appear to promote are inseparable from divine favor and =
 > the Tlahtoani's munificence. =20
 > But perhaps the English word "merit" has served to conflate separate and =
 > distinct, but interactive, Nahua concepts in these passages? Context is =
 > crucial.
 > Willard Gingerich
 > St. John's University
 > 8000 Utopia Parkway
 > Jamaica, NY 11439
 > (718)990-1442
 > (718)990-1894 FAX
 > gingeriw at stjohns.edu

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