imitations of Nahuatl place names sfargo at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Jul 28 07:29:14 UTC 2004

If it does include the glyphs it isn’t by Hieronymus Bosch 
since he died in 1516. Interpreting Salvador Dalí’s imitations 
of Bosch pictures (in this case of a Bosch imitation) is 
complicated because Dalí claimed he was following what 
he called the Paranoiac Critical Method, but I think some of 
his observations were acute even when he pretended they 
were paranoid. There are several other Dalí paintings that 
relate to The Garden of Earthly Delights/El Jardín de las 
Delicias and they’re all interesting for one reason or another. 
My working assumption is that he thought he was illustrating 
something important. I just wonder if he knew more about 
Nahuatl glyphs than I do. 

For the series of ten date signs, it seems as though the 
series is too long to be an accident, even though some
 of them are obscure. There’s also a lot of supporting detail 
once it’s assumed that the picture is from 1528. One example 
in Nahuatl is where 7-Calli is represented by a person living 
in a jar like Diogenes, so the jar is a house. The 7 comes 
from seven fingers (difficult to see in the small picture) 
silhouetted against the inside of the jar. Next to it is a bird 
with a human foot underneath, a surrealistic version of 
Cuauhtémoc’s name glyph, and the person who seems to 
be missing some fingers could be Cortés who lost the use 
of two fingers in the Noche Triste. All the dates make some 
kind of sense, for instance where 6-Tecpatl, when the 
Franciscans arrived, is the Garden of Eden.

One of the underlying ideas seems to be that reports from 
the New World sounded like fiction. I think this idea is 
actually illustrated since the two people in the cave in 
the lower right corner of the central panel (not in the 
details I sent), who probably represent Carlos I/Charles 
V and Juana I (dos reyes), can see all the way across 
to the left panel where a lion is eating a deer, which is 
a scene from Amadis, a few paragraphs from the 
beginning, where two kings see a lion eating a deer. 
Part of the reason it’s all so obscure is that the thousands 
of Biblical allusions José de Siguenza saw are in a Jewish 
frame of reference, but it’s also that hieroglyphics 
apparently were seen as obscure. So asking about the 
Nahuatl glyphs is a little like asking Egyptologists what
 they think of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, except that 
it’s a little more serious than that, it’s full of real political 
cartoons and also is a pretty good poster for memorizing 
the sequence of events from 1519-1528. But it’s interesting 
to try to piece together what the person might have known. 
Susan Fargo Gilchrist

Original Message:
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 06:19:35 +0100
Subject: Re: imitations of Nahuatl place names

--- "sfargo at" <sfargo at EARTHLINK.NET> wrote:
> I have more experience with art history than Nahuatl
> language, and have a question about a European
> imitation of a Nahuatl glyph. I have been working on
> an interpretation of the triptych in the Museo del Prado
> known as The Garden of Earthly Delights/El Jardín de
> las Delicias, ...

Salvador Dali and Hieronymus Bosch painted many strange surrealistic
images. Could the resemblance to Nahuatl glyphs be accidental?

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