The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan: A Map That Tells a Story
Author(s): Giancarlo Ibárgüen
The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan is the first known map of Guatemala. It is also the only firsthand indigenous account of the conquest of Guatemala. Painted on cloth circa 1530, it tells the story of how the Quauhquecholteca Indians of Mexico conquered Guatemala in alliance with the Spanish.
For the peoples of Mesoamerica, geography did not exist independently of history. Unlike contemporary maps, the Lienzo was not intended to be read in silence. It was presented during community rituals and “read” by an experienced narrator. As something to be “experienced,” it is a distant echo of that primeval conversation that began in the forests and steppes of Africa.
Centuries of wear and tear made it difficult for the viewer to decipher its iconography. In 2006, Universidad Francisco Marroquín undertook a project to digitally restore the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan to make it easier to understand, so all may participate in this conversation.
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