This paper considers how the Spanish colonial capital of Mérida, Yucatán, which was built upon the abandoned Maya ceremonial center of Tihó, was depicted and referenced in colonial era drawings and texts. In these materials I examine how the city was represented as the new cultural and economic center of Yucatán and as a location that processed a vital Maya past. In approaching these themes, my essay engages with current academic and theoretical scholarship that has explored Tihó-Mérida’s multicultural identity. I contribute to this scholarship by bringing together disparate materials not often discussed in accord with one another, specifically Spanish chronicles, the 1581 drawing of the Guardianship of Motul, the drawings from the book of the Chilam Balam of Chumayel, and passages from other books of the Chilam Balams. Spanish and Maya informants created these textual and visual objects that express related but differing ideas about Tihó-Mérida’s importance in Yucatán. Spanish writers often are concerned with affirming the city’s status, while Maya sources either confirm the capital’s authority over Yucatán or attempt to align with or reinstate the capital’s power. In this paper I examine how indigenous agency was enacted in textual and pictorial references to Tihó to reveal some of the ways in which the Maya responded to the social unrest brought about by Spanish colonization.


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pp. 21-47
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