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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Nueva Cronica y Buen Gobierno

The Drawings of the Indian Chronicler
Guaman Poma
New Chronicle and Good Government
Published by Piki, Cusco Peru

This is a book of drawings by the author, a Peruvian of mixed Indian/Spanish ancestry. He was only two generations removed from the conquest. It's important to understand that he wasn't Incan himself, rather his Indian family had been officials in the Empire but not ethnically Incan. Bizarrely, this book was "discovered" in a libarary in Copenhagen Denmark- in 1908! Pretty incredible if you think about, even more so when you consider that is one of the best sources on Pre-Contact Incan civilization (It Poma's perspective is largely one of indignation and outrage on behalf of the Native Population's treatment at the hands of the Spaniards.

In fact, the introduction explains that the function of this book originally was to obtain for the author the Spanish granted title of "Indian Advocate." It's certainly worth seeking out, first because, as a picture book you can read it in five minutes, and second, it is really interesting to see the Pre-Contact civilization depicted so accurately.

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