backward roguery in Duran

John F. Schwaller schwallr at
Mon Jul 21 15:29:08 UTC 2003

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 10:47:13 -0600 (MDT)
From: James Maffie <maffiej at lamar.ColoState.EDU>
To: nahuat-l at
Subject: backward roguery in Duran

In CH.XXI of GODS AND RITES (p.297 of Horcasitas and Heyden), Duran
briefly describes a performance with song and dance that included the
appearance of a "rogue who pretended to understand all his master's words
backward, turning around all his words". He tells us nothing more about

Can anyone enlighten me regarding the nature and significance of this
practice? Were such practices common among the Nahuas? Does Sahagun
mention any such activities? Are there any contemporary analogues or
descendants of the activity?

Duran's description recalls to mind practices in other cultures which
involve a temporary reversal (inversion) of the established hierarchy
between master and servant, serf, or slave. Is this what is going on here?

Thanks in advance,

Jim Maffie

James Maffie <maffiej at lamar.ColoState.EDU>

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