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Genealogy and Land Record of Juan Tepetzin (Fragmento de las Mujeres)

Arts of the Americas

The Genealogy of Juan Tepetzin records the distinguished heritage and landholdings of a member of the Tlaxcalan elite, who appears at the bottom dressed in a dark tilmatl, or cloak. Such genealogies were important for land transfers in Tlaxcalan society, in which the nobility were prohibited from selling land to commoners. As a member of the indigenous elite, Tepetzin could also claim privileged status within the Spanish colonial system, which distinguished Indian nobles from their common brethren.


La Genealogía de Juan Tepetzin
registra la distinguida herencia y los terrenos de un miembro de la élite de Tlaxcala, que aparece en la parte inferior vestido con un tilmatl oscuro, o capa. Tales genealogías eran importantes para los traspasos de tierras en la sociedad de Tlaxcala, en la cual la nobleza tenía prohibida la venta de tierras a plebeyos. Al pertenecer a la élite indígena, Tepetzin podía reclamar sus derechos y privilegios dentro del sistema colonial español, que distinguía a la nobleza indígena de sus hermanos comunes.

CULTURE Tlaxcalan
MEDIUM Ink on laid paper with partial watermark (of an image within a circle), upper center of sheet
  • Place Made: Tlaxcala, Mexico
  • DATES ca. 1575
    PERIOD Colonial Period
    DIMENSIONS 17 x 12 1/4 in. (43.2 x 31.1 cm) frame: 29 1/2 x 23 1/2 x 1 3/4 in. (74.9 x 59.7 x 4.4 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.361
    CREDIT LINE Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund and Henry L. Batterman Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Tlaxcalan. Genealogy and Land Record of Juan Tepetzin (Fragmento de las Mujeres), ca. 1575. Ink on laid paper with partial watermark (of an image within a circle), upper center of sheet, 17 x 12 1/4 in. (43.2 x 31.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund and Henry L. Batterman Fund, 37.361. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.361_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.361_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A sheet of paper with a pictorial genealogy recorded in multicolored inks. The focal point of the genealogy is Juan Tepetzin, who is dressed in the dark cloak in the bottom center of the document. His forebears, who are depicted above him, are members of the native elite and they are wearing elegant cloaks and sandals and holding bouquets favored by the nobility. Tepetzin's ancestor Yxtletletzin is sheltered within a palace. The document is identified as being from Tlaxcala for a few reasons: the wooden stools on which Tepetzin's male relatives sit and the brick-like upper story of the palace are typical Tlaxcalan works, and similar bouquets and red-netted cloaks are found in the Lienzo of Tlaxcala, a narrative painting of Tlaxcala's Conquest-era history. In this document, two rectangles (one with five plants) were added after the genealogy was painted. These rectangles denote agricultural fields and indicate with the Nahuatl text that Juan Tepetzin took over some abandoned lands. The genealogy therefore relates to a land transfer.
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