“Fascinating and compelling . . . Return to Ixil demonstrates that the methods of New Philology and its emphasis on native-language documents are vibrant and set the way for locating additional native-language texts.”
—Mark W. Lentz, Utah Valley University
“The authors weave the past into the present in a way that honors a living Ixil community, and in so doing gives critical meaning to a rigorous, scholarly philological enterprise. This is a major contribution to Maya studies from leaders in the New Philological school of Ethnohistory. . . . Return to Ixil will change Mesoamerican ethnohistory.”
—Miriam Melton-Villanueva, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Return to Ixil is an examination of over 100 colonial-era Maya wills from the Yucatec town of Ixil, presented together and studied fully for the first time. These testaments make up the most significant corpus of Maya-language documents from the colonial period. Offering an unprecedented picture of material and spiritual life in Ixil from 1738 to 1779, they are rare and rich sources for the study of Maya culture and history.
Supplemented with additional archival research, the wills provide new and detailed descriptions of various aspects of life in eighteenth-century Ixil. In each chapter, authors Mark Christensen and Matthew Restall examine a different dimension of Ixil’s colonial history, including the role of notaries, Maya participation in a coastal militia, economy and modes of production, religious life and records, and the structures and patterns of familial relationships. These details offer insight into the complex network of societies in colonial Yucatan, colonial Mesoamerica, and colonial Latin America.
Including an appendix presenting the original Maya texts as well as translations by Christensen and Restall, Return to Ixil not only analyzes the largest body of substantive wills in any Mayan language known today but also provides a rare closeup view of the inner workings of a colonial Maya town and the communal and familial affairs that made up a large part of the Maya colonial experience. It will be of great interest to Mayanists as well as to students and scholars of history, anthropology, ethnohistory, linguistics, and social history.
The publication of this book is supported in part by Brigham Young University and Penn State University.