Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Cultural Aspects of Spanish in America

Eva de Lourdes Diaz

Contents of Curriculum Unit 94.03.02:

To Guide Entry

This unit is addressed to teachers of Spanish as a foreign language. Students of Spanish as a Foreign Language are normally presented with a language of European origin (Castilian Spanish), and teachers are constantly having to explain language variations in the Spanish spoken in America. As English in America differs from British English, so does Spanish.

Many of the “New World” words and cultural nuances have traveled back to Europe, to the point where one does not know anymore what came from where: Swiss chocolates are so famous, one tends to think that chocolate originates in Switzerland and not Mesoamerica. There was a potato famine in Ireland—and many people tend to associate potatoes with Ireland, rather than with Peru. Most languages in Europe use a variation of the word “hurricane” in their vocabularies, little knowing that the God of Evil of the Taino Indians of Puerto Rico was called “Huracan.”

There was a syncretism of cultures after the arrival of Columbus to America, as for example, the syncretism of the original Mesoamerican cultures with that of the European Spanish. This is still seen today in figures such as the Virgen de Guadalupe (Virgin of Guadalupe) in Mexico, who embodies aspects of both the Catholic Virgin Mary and the Aztec Goddess Tonantzin.

There were many people living in what we now call the New World. For the sake of this unit, the Aztecs (in Mesoamerica) will be representative of all, though there were many others, such as the Tainos (in the Caribbean) and the Incas (in South America). The Spaniards (in Europe) will be representative of all who followed from Europe, impacting not only the “New World” but also the “Old World,” for . . .

On the evening of October 11, 1492, Christopher Columbus, on board the Santa Maria in the Atlantic Ocean, thought he saw a tiny light far in the distance. A few hours later, Rodrigo de Triana, lookout on the Pinta’s forecastle, sighted land. In the morning a party went ashore. Columbus had reached the Bahamas. The connection between the Old and New Worlds, which for more than ten millennia had been no more than a tenuous thing of Viking voyages, drifting fishermen, and shadowy contacts via Polynesia, became on the twelfth day of October 1492 a bond as significant as the Bering land bridge had once been.

The two worlds, which God had cast asunder, were reunited, and the two worlds, which were so very different, began on that day to become alike. That trend toward biological homogeneity is one of the most important aspects of the history of life on this planet since the retreat of the continental glaciers. (Crosby 1972: 3)

Aztecs and Spaniards had myths to live by, politics to govern their daily lives based on their myths and environment. However, as stated in the above quote, there were also biological entities. There were plants, animals and diseases in the exchange, strongly influencing the myths and the politics of both worlds.

The “New World” was not so new after all. The first eight words of the Popol Vuh, the Mayan book of the dawn of life, attest to this. They read, “This is the beginning of the Ancient Word . . . “ (Tedlock 1985: 71)

The unit includes three lessons:

1. New World Foods / Los Alimentos del Nuevo Mundo: The foods we eat and the foods our ancestors ate are very different. If we are what we eat, we are the World. Before 1492, our diets were very regional, rather limited and boring. Imagine the Italians cooking without tomatoes, the Irish without potatoes, Hawaiians without pineapples, the Swiss without chocolates, the Indians of India and Southeast Asians making curry without the fiery capsicum pepper, the English without turkey for Christmas and the French without French vanilla. Well, that is exactly how it was before 1492. (Coe 1994, Fuentes 1992, OAS 1992, Rozin 1992)

Foods traveling from America to Europe and other parts of the World

corn / maiz—the bread of America, the gift of Quetzalcoatl. Man is made of corn; a sacred plant
tomato / tomate—the word comes from the Aztec xitomatl. In Italian, pomodoro, the golden apple. It had an aphrodisiac reputation with the Aztecs, which led the English and the French to call it a love apple. Delicious in Mexican salsa.
potato / papa—in every color from white, yellow, orange, pink and red, to purple, blue, green, brown and black. A Russian religious sect declared them to be a botanical monstrosity, little knowing that vodka was to be made from fermented potatoes.
turkey / pavo I guaxolotl—the French called it dindon, the bird of the Indies.
cashew nut/caju—in the Amazon, it still has medicinal uses: la zarzaparrilla de los pobres (sarsparilla of the poor)
cassava or manioc/yuca o mandioca—it resembles a pre-historic vegetable. In the Caribbean it is boiled with salt, like potatoes, and served occasionally with an olive oil and onion sauce.
avocado/aguacate—contains more protein than most fruits. The Aztecs considered it an aphrodisiac, and called it akuacatl (testicle). Delicious in guacamole.
bean/habichuela: frijoles—most beans, except for fava (Europe) and chick peas(Middle East) come Mexico. Since at least 5000 BC, people in America relied on the bean, with corn, as the corner-stone of their diet.
guava/guayaba—in Nahuatl, xalxocotl, a fruit with an intoxicating floral scent. It is great in guava bread, guava jelly on crackers or guava paste (pasta de guayaba) with white cheese.
chocolate / xocolatl—Moctezuma loved drinking the bitter cocoa. Louis XIV, who was married to a Spanish infanta, introduced it to the court at Versailles.
chile pepper/chile: pimienta de las Indias—seuanos, poblanos, aji picante, the varieties abound.
peanut/mani: cacahuate—originally from Bolivia, it arrived in Mexico at about 500 AD. The Aztecs called it tlal-cacakuatl (earth cacao) and prescribed a peanut paste for toothaches.
pineapple/pina—brought north to the Caribbean by the Tupi-Guarani from the area of Brazil. They used it for food, medicine, and even as poison for their arrows. When the plant decays, it develops a deadly toxin.
Others: tobacco, paprika, pumpkins, American cotton.
Syphilis/sifilis—Columbus took it back to Europe from Espanola, though its origination in America has been questioned. The first recorded case in Europe began in Italy in 1494. The Italians called it the French disease; the French called it the disease of Naples; the English called it the Spanish disease; the Poles called the German disease; the Russians called it the Polish disease; the Japanese called it Tang sore (Chinese); the Chinese called it Portuguese; and soon and so forth, adnauseam . . .

Foods traveling from Europe and other parts of the World to America

wheat/trigo—traveled down to South America
cattle/ganado—became basic in the economy of Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina
sheep/oveja—they died in the tropics(except for the black belly sheep of Barbados), but survived well in the Pampas.
horses/caballos—16 in all arrived with Cortes, according to Bernal Diaz. According to Crosby, the hors originated in America, traveled to Asia, Africa and Europe and then disappeared in its homeland in the Pleistocene era.
pork/cerdo—it was an instant hit with the people of Mesoamerica.
grape/uva—Chile produces the best wine in Latin America
orange/naranja—known as “china” in Puerto Rico, where a tangerine is a “mandarina”, reminders of their origin. Forests of wild oranges spread in the subtropics.
camels/camellos—they suffered the same fate as horses in America. The ones who traveled to Asia became dromedaries; the ones who traveled south became llamas and alpacas. The returned dromedary did not survive in America.
rice/arroz—originally from the Orient. It traveled well and has become a staple in many American countries. The national dish in Puerto Rico, arroz con pollo y habichuelas guisadas, the best of both worlds, the rice with chicken resembling a Spanish paella, but with a bean stew on top.
chickens and geese/pollos y gansos—introduced to America by Europeans they have now become staples in American diet.
olives/aceitunas/the olive tree(arbol de olivo)—after many failures, it finally took in the 1560s and prospered in South America’s Pacific coast.
banana/banana o guineo—was brought into America from the Canaries in 1516.
sugar/azucar—Columbus brought sugar with him to Espanola in 1493. Mill technicians were brought in from the Canaries and by 1530 there were 34 mills on the island
wheat/trigo—brought to America on Columbus’ second voyage in 1493. Lima produced wheat in quantity by the 1540s.
Others: chickpeas, melons, onions, radishes, salad greens
smallpox and measles/sarampion y viruels—though they are not foods they formed part of the Colombian exchange and were the major culprits in the massive disappearance of the people in America and the extermination of others, such as the Arawaks, in the Caribbean. These diseases were the true destroyers of the American peoples. Tenochtitlan would not have been weakened without them.
2. A Trip to the Market-place / Un Viaje a la Plaza del Mercado: What was that first trip to the market like for the Europeans in Mexico? Having seen what differences there were in diet, plants, and customs, it must have been like a Martian visiting Earth for the first time. Bernal Diaz del Castillo recorded it well on his book, Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva Espana. This lesson includes an original excerpt in Spanish from the book.

“ . . . y cuando llegamos a la gran plaza, que se dice el Tatelulco, como no habiamos visto tal cosa, quedamos admirados de la multitud de gente y mercaderias que en ella habia y del gran concierto y regimiento que en todo tenian; y los principales que iban con nosotros nos lo iban mostrando: cada genero de mercaderias estaban por si, y tenian situados y senalados sus asientos. Comencemos por los mercaderes de oro y plata y piedras ricas, y plumas y mantas y cosas labradas, y otras mercaderias, esclavos y esclavas: digo que traian tantos a vender a aquella gran plaza como traen los portugueses los negros de Guinea, e traianlos atados en unas varas largas, con collares en los pescuezos porque no se les huyesesn, y otros dejaban sueltos. Luego estaban otros mercaderes que vendian ropa mas basta, e algodon, e otras cosas de hilo torcido, y cacaguateros que vendian cacao; y desta manera estaban cuantos generos de mercaderias hay en toda la Nueva Espana, puesto que por su concierto, de la manera que hay en mi tierra, que es Medina del Campo, donde se hacen las ferias, que en cada calle estan sus mercaderias por si, asi estaban en esta gran plaza; y los que vendian mantas de henequen y sogas, y cotaras, que son los zapatos que calzan, y hacen de henequen y raices muy dulces cocidas, y otras zarrabusterias que sacan del mismo arbol; todo estaba a una parte de la plaza en su lugar senalado; y cueros de tigres, de leones y de nutrias, y de venados y de otras alimanas, e tejones e gatos monteses, dellos adobados y otros sin adobar. Estaban en otra parte otros generos de cosas e mercaderias. Pasemos adelante, y digamos de los que vendian frisoles y chia y otras legumbres e yerbas, a otra parte. Vamos a los que vendian gallinas, gallos de papada, conejos, liebres, venados y anadones, perrillos y otras cosas deste arte, a su parte de la plazas. Digamos de las fruteras, de las que vendian cosas cocidas, mazamorreras y malcocinado; y tambien a su parte, puesto todo genero de loza hecha de mil maneras, desde tinajas grandes y jarrillos chicos, que estaban por si aparte; y tambien los que vendian miel y melcochas y otras golosinas que hacian, como nuegados. Pues los que vendian madera, tablas, cunas viejas e tajos e bancos, todo por si. Vamos a los que vendian lena, ocote e otras cosas desta manera. Que quieren mas que diga? Que hablando con acato, tambien vendian canoas llenas de hienda de hombres, que tenian en los esteros cerca de la plaza, y esto era para hacer o para curtir cueros, que sin ella decian que no se hacian buenos.” (Diaz 1632: 189-90)

The previous excerpt is from the manuscrito Remon. It is important to note the period in which it was written and to relive the magic of that moment with the students.

3. Poetry and Art / Poesia y Arte: Poetry brings us closer to the oversoul, embracing all. The Aztec poetry is very colorful. Its translations into Spanish bring us to the new word—neither Aztec, nor Spanish. This new word can still be vividly seen in the works of art; pottery, sculptures, paintings, architecture, fabrics, tapestries, contemporaneous with the poetry.

One of the distinctions of the Nahuatl poetry is its use of metaphor, specifically the extended metaphor. For example, “jade skirt” is a lake or a river, though in the poem there may not be any mention at all to a lake or a river.

To understand the meaning of this extended form of metaphor the listener must know that in ceremonial or courtly language it is customary to refer to the water of lakes, rivers, or springs as “skirts of jade.” Among the Aztecs, the names and attributes of deities and heroes were expressed in many such extended metaphors and were often translated into plastic form as hieroglyphic or figural elements. Thus, sculptural effigies of Chalchiuhtlicue would be shown wearing a jade-covered skirt or, as in the Codex Borbonicus, the skirt would be painted jade-green. When a ritual performer appeared as the personification of lake water and the female deity, the skirt would thus visually name Chalchiuhtlicue. In Aztec society everyone witnessing the performance would know how to “read” the element of ritual costume. (Townsend 1992: 161)

The extended metaphor was used for the names of deities, places, actions, heroes, objects or concepts of significance. Poetry was not poetry, but “flowers and song” (flor y canto).

Netzahualcoyotl was born in 1402 and died in 1472. He was ruler of Texcoco, counselor of Tenochtitlan, a wiseman and the most famous and well known poet in the Nahuatl world. Very few poets in this world earned the title of tlamatini (el que sabe algo), one who knows something, who meditates and discourses about the ancient enigmas of man on Earth, life beyond and divinity. Netzahualcoyotl was one of the poets who became tlamatinime.

At the age of 16, in the year 1418, Netzahualcoyotl witnessed the assassination of his father by the people of Tezozomoc of Azoapotzalco. According to the historian Chimalpain, it was a poet who helped him escape a similar fate.

(figure available in print form)
Netzahualcoyotl, the young prince, witnessing the murder of his father while hiding in a tree (from Codice Xolotl, vii )

In 1431, after many battles against the Azcapotzalcos, he was crowned and reestablished at Texcoco. He ruled for 40 years. Art and culture flourished. He built palaces, temples, botanical gardens and zoos. He worked with waterworks, bringing water to Mexico and isolating brackish water. Even though he was allied with Mexico Tenochtitlan, he was against human sacrifice.

As a never ending story, past, present and future, he reminds us of the transitory aspect of time. Read from our present historical perspective, his poetry could be considered sad. More mystic interpretations have considered it a premonition of the end of life before the Europeans. Therefore, the following poem should be read in a soft, resigned, peaceful tone.

However, an attempt should also be made to read it through its historical perspective. Could it be a call to warriors? Texcoco wants you! Was it perhaps read in a high tone, with loud bursts, calling to arms? After all, eagles and jaguars were the symbols for warriors. (Leon Portilla: 1967: 50-2)

Percibo lo secreto, lo oculto: I perceive the secret, the occult
!Oh vosotros senores!Oh, gentlemen!
Asi somos,Thus we are,
somos mortales,we are mortal,
de cuatro en cuatro nosotros los hombres,four by four, we, all men
todos habremos de irnos,we will all leave,
todos habremos de morir en la tierra,we will all die on Earth . . .
Como una pintura,As a painting
nos iremos borrando,we will fade away.
Como una flor.As a flower,
nos iremos secando,we will dry up,
aqui sobre la tierra,here on Earth.
Como vestidura de plumaje de ave zacuan.Like the feathers that dress the zacuan bird,
de la preciosa ave de cuello de hule,the precious bird with the flexible rubber neck
nos iremos acabando,we will wither . . .
Meditadlo, senores,Ponder on this, Gentlemen,
aguilas y tigres,eagles and jaguars,
aunque fuerais de jade,if you were made of jade,
aunque fuerais de oro,if you were made of gold,
tambien alla ireis,you will still go there,
al lugar de los descarnados,to the place of the fleshless
Tendremos que desaparecer,We will all have to disappear,
nadie habra de quedar,no one will stay behind.1
Netzahualcoyotl challenges mortality with his eternal poetry. His heart finds the flowers and songs that never die; poetry.

No acabaran mis flore,My flowers will not end,
no cesaran mis cantos,my singing will not end.
Yo cantor los elevo,I, the singer, elevate them,
se reparten, se esparcen,they are shared, they are scattered.
Aun cuando las flores.Even when the flowers
se marchitan y amarillecen,wither and become yellow,
seran llevadas alla,they will be taken there,
al interior de la casa,inside the home
del ave de plumas de oro,of the bird with golden feathers.

Lección I—Lesson I—Los Alimentos del Nuevo Mundo / New World Foods

Intermediate to High School Level

Beginner to Intermediate Level of Spanish as a Foreign Language

Objectives: Content focus: History, geography, ancient American cultures culinary habits Language focus: Vocabulary on food; grammar supplement to the Spanish textbook, Chapter 7: De Compras2
Preparation: Get samples of the foods to be discussed and pictures. Get world map. Prepare sequencing activities of events. Prepare open ended questions.
Warm-Up: Show students food samples (the picture or the item) and ask them where they think they came from originally? For example, Swiss chocolate, the tomato for Italian pizza, or the potato for Irish buttered and parsleyed potatoes. Mark answers on the world map.
Vocabulary: Tomate, maiz, aguacate, guayaba, mani, pina, caju, yuca, Maya, Azteca, Inca, Taino . . .
Grammar: Ir, dar, estar (p. 83)
Examples: Yo voy al supermercado. Yo compro mani. Yo estoy en la caja; Pique es esto? Esto es an aguacate.
Reading: After the oral presentation of the foods, distribute a list with the items and their history. Read and identify locations in map.
Writing: Have the students write simple sentences with the vocabulary words learned.
Culture: Identify the people who originally used the foods in America; the importance of the foods in their culture and myths, and some preparation practices.
Extension: Have students visit the Peabody museum or the Yale Art Museum to see objects and works of art related to the cultures discussed in class. Prepare corn tortillas from scratch. Have each student press his or her own tortilla. Fill with frijoles, tomatoes . . . and chives for the brave ones.

Lección II—Lesson II—Un Viaje a la Plaza del Mercado / A trip to the Marketplace

Intermediate to High School Level

Intermediate Level of Spanish as a Foreign Language

Objectives: Content focus: History, ancient texts, cultural perceptions
Language focus: Reading comprehension, vocabulary; supplement to the booklet, In Mexico used in the classroom3
Preparation: Get copies of the book by Bemal Diaz del Castillo, Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva Espana. The Yale Library maintains copies of the old editions, but they are in the Rare Book collection and must be seen there. However, the Sterling Memorial Library houses a copy reprinted in Spain in 1982, which can be checked out. (Please, see the Annotated Bibliography for more information about this edition.)
Warm-up: Divide the students into teams. Ask the teams to imagine themselves part of an expedition to Mars. They find Martians at a marketplace and they must inform the people back on Earth what they see, in writing. In the marketplace they see a creature with two legs but with a trunk like an elephants Explain that the arrival of Bemal Diaz with Cortes had a similar impact to them in their historical time.
Vocabulary: There is a lot of vocabulary in this unit and much of it written in older Spanish. As a preparation for this excerpt, the Diccionario Espanol de la Real Academia should be consulted by the teacher. There is a complete set at the Sterling Library’s reference wing. You may ask why Diaz describes the jaguars as tigers in his chronicle. From the Martian experience, the students may deduct that he described things based on things he knew.
Grammar: The focus on grammar should be historical, a brief comparison of the old and the new. Example: the use of {e} instead of {y} to mean “and.”
Reading: Students should read the passage out loud as if they were reporting back to the queen and draw a sketch of the diagram on the board.
Extension: Have students read La Ciudad de los Dioses by Luis M. Carrero Perez.

Lección III—Lesson III—Poesia y Arte / Poetry and Art

Intermediate to High School Level

Intermediate Level of Spanish as a Foreign Language

Objectives: Content focus: Literature, Ancient American poets, symbols (in writing and in artistic representation Grammar focus: poetry, metaphors, vocabulary
Preparation: Make copies of the poem(s) for students. Get copies of Mesoamerican art books, illustrating some of the symbols mentioned in the poems.
For example: The Art of Mesoamerica from Olmec to Aztec by Mary Miller and Circa 1492—Art in the Age of Exploration by Jay A. Levenson.
Warm-up: Write the name Netzahualcoyotl in big letters on the board. Have students play detective to find out who he was by asking yes or no questions (Si o No). Write the correct facts they identify on the board, i.e., Mexican, man, ancient, important, ruler . . . You may want to show an expanded copy of the drawing from Codice Xolotl, vii to extend the exercise.
Vocabulary: As identified in the poetry. It is important to explain to the students that the poems were originally recited in Nauatl, and then translated to Spanish. The literal translation in this unit is only for the teachers use.
Grammar: An important aspect of Nahuatl poetry is the use of metaphors; therefore exercises on metaphors are important, as well as their representations in art. For example, the poem is addressed to eagles and jaguars (the Spanish version says tigers for the same reason Diaz said tigers), and these are symbols for warriors and war in Aztec culture.
Reading: Oral reading of poem and discussion on interpretation. Is it sad? Is it a call to war? Why are warriors called eagles and jaguars? Why are poems called flowers and songs?
Art: Eagle Warriors become real when students can see the art work they inspired. The Art of Mesoamerica from Olmec to Aztec by Mary Miller has interesting art related to the subject which is worth sharing with the class. (Miller 1986)
(figure available in print form)
“Life-sized, this idealized young eagle warrior is posed as if to take flight. Gulf Coast sculptors, skilled in firing such large terra cotta works, were probably the makers.” (Miller 1986: 213)
Circa 1492 is an art book full of colorful pictures related to the topic. (Levenson: 1992: 554-73). Levenson’s book has two beautiful drawings of Netzahualcoyotl himself dressed up as a warrior. There are eagles, jaguars, maps of the market and of the full city. There are drums carved in wood, which were used to accompany the flower and songs.
Extension: Have students draw a picture similar to the one of the young prince, Netzahualcoyotl, depicting an important event in their lives as they would like children in the year 3000 to understand the event. Divide the class in groups of four, to write a group poem using metaphors to describe images. Have students see the video on the Popol Vuh. (Tedlock 1985))

to top


1. Literal translation by Eva de Lourdes Diaz (for a poetic translation, please refer to Miguel Leon Portilla and Jose Alcina Franch in the Annotated Bibliography)
2 Spanish: Saludos, First Part (New York: McGraw-Hill) 1989. pp 80-93.
3 Cassius, Picot. In Mexico (Saint Paul: Chancerel Publishers Ltd. 1988)

to top

Annotated Bibliography

1. New World Foods

Coe, Sophie D. America’s First Cuisines. Texas: University of Texas Press 1994. This is an excellent book on the contribution made by the first inhabitants in America to the present world. It mentions the flora and fauna, and it goes from the ingredients to the menus.

Crosby Jr., Alfred W., The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1972. This is a jewel. I found it at the Kline Science Library. It is very objective, factual and easy to read. It provides details on flowers, fruits, vegetables, animals, and bacteria and how they adapted to the exchange.

Fuentes, Carlos The Buried Mirror—Reflections on Spain and the New World. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1992: 203-7. This is Carlos Fuentes’ first book in English. It is informative and a delight to read. The pages indicated provide information about food. I recommend reading the whole book.

Organization of American States, “What’s Cooking in the Americas—Que se esta cocinando en las Americas?” Calendar. Washington, D.C. 1992. An excellent calendar with a fruit or vegetable colorful picture for each month, plus anecdotes and recipes in both English and Spanish. You may request copies by writing to the OAS, Wash.D.C. 20006.

Rozin, Elisabeth. Blue Corn and Chocolate. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1992. This is a cookbook with 175 recipes featuring “new world” ingredients. It provides descriptions of some of the ingredients.

2. A Trip to the Marketplace

Carrero Perez, Luis Maria, La Ciudad de los Dioses. Madrid: Universidad de Salamanca, 1991. Historical fiction in simplified Spanish for beginners.

Diaz del Castillo, Bernal, Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva Espana. Madrid: Imprenta del Rey, 1632. It is available to be seen at the Rare Book collection at Yale University.

Diaz del Castillo, Bernal, Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva Espana. Madrid: Instituto Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, 1982. This is a good copy to share with the students. It is a big, red book with the old look. It has two versions of the book, side by side. The manuscrito Remon and the marzuscrito Guatemala. The excerpt included is from the former. The latter is difficult to read, but fun to look at.

Diaz, Bernal, The Conquest of New Spain, trans. Cohen, J.M. London: Penguin Books, 1963. This is a popular translation of the book.

3. Poetry and Art

Alcina Franch, Jose. Mitos y Literatura Azteca. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1989. This little book has many of the poems translated into Spanish by Angel Maria Garibay and Miguel Leon Portilla. It also has theatre and short stories.

Launey, Michel. Introduction a la Langue et a la Litterature Azteques—Tome 1: grammaire. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1979. This is a grammar on the Aztec language.

Leon-Portilla, Miguel. Trece Poetas del Mundo Azteca. Mexico: UNAM, 1967: 4952. The pages indicated have the poems in the unit. There are many other poems, comments and pictures. There is an English translation to the book, ironically called, Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World by University of Oklahoma Press.

Osuna Ruiz, Rafael. Introduccion a la lirica prehispanica. Maracaibo: Editorial Universitaria de la Universidad del Zulia, 1968. It provides an in depth analysis of the Quechua and Nahuatl literary languages.

Townsend, Richard F. The Aztecs. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1992. Informative about art and literature with black & white pictures.

Gruzinski, Serge. LAmerique de la Conquete. peinte par les Indiens du Mexique. This book is in French, but it has big and beautiful illustrations. It even has two fold out pages, representing a full color Aztec accordion book with instructions on how to read it. Large and detailed pictures of Netzahualcoyotl.

Levenson, Jay A. Circa 1492—Art in the Age of Exploration. This is a big art book with big pictures in color. It shows jaguars, eagles and Netzahualcoyotl.

Miller, Mary Ellen. The Art of Mesoamerica from Olmec to Aztec. New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1991. Very informative about the objects and places with many pictures and a good map of the sites.

Tedlock, Dennis, Trans. Popol Vuh: The Maya Book of the Dawn of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985. This book describes a very different view on the origin of humankind and the world. The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has an animated movie available that tells this story. The anirnation is done based on authentic art objects. My students found it fun to watch!

to top

Contents of 1994 Volume III | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2014 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI