QUERY: Mestlapiques

jonathan.amith at yale.edu jonathan.amith at yale.edu
Sat May 31 18:47:53 UTC 2008

Dear listeros,

The best book for fish in Mexico is Robert Rush Miller, Freshwater Fishes of
Mexico, U. Chicago Press, 2005.

He lists mexcalpique and mexcalpiques, various generas and species in the
Goodeidae family. In Spanish they share the common name "splitfin". Nahuatl
etymology is probably related to mahtlapal- or ma:stla:kapal-, stems for two
different types of 'wings', 'arms', etc. (the first unbent, the second
jointed). The verb pi:k, cf. picqui in Remi Simeon as an adjective,  "macizo,
compacto" and in Molina as "cosa maciza". Since one of the extended 
meanings of
the verb is "prensar" (nopam mopiqui in Simeon as estoy prensado, lit. la
multitud se apiña sobre mí) the fish name could well refer to the pressed,
flattened look of the tails of Goodeidae, see illustrations in the above-cited


Quoting "Kevin P. Smith" <ksmith at umail.ucsb.edu>:

> Dear Colleagues,
> Does anyone out there happen to know the Latin name for the scaly
> viviparous fish called mestlapique? I have found dozens of references
> to them as an important food source for the lakeshore people and
> chinamperos of Lake Chalco and Lake Xochimilco but haven't been able
> to ascertain exactly what they are. Sahagun has a one-line description
> of a fish called Michipitli, which maybe the same creature, and Aleman
> lists mestlapiques as an important lake fish in his geographical
> dictionary. So far, however, I have found no present-day references or
> alternative names for them.
> I'm also trying to identify a root called Cabecitas de Negro. This
> term also shows up in dozens of 17th and 18th century documents and
> Sor Juana even has a recipe for it in her cookbook. If anyone has a
> guess as to what this water plant may be, I would be much obliged.
> Thanks much,
> Kevin Smith
> Department of History
> University of California Santa Barbara
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Jonathan D. Amith
Director: Mexico-North Program on Indigenous Languages
Research Affiliate: Gettysburg College; Yale University; University of Chicago
(O) 717-337-6795
(H) 717-338-1255
Mail to:
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
Gettysburg College
Campus Box 412
300 N. Washington Street
Gettysburg, PA  17325

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