April 23, 2015

Lectionary in Nahuatl with Latin Headings

Fray Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico from Spain in 1529 and stayed until his death in 1590. He worked with the indigenous peoples of the area to document their cultures and religions, in large part motivated by the conviction that better understanding of their beliefs and practices would improve the efforts to convert them to Christianity. His methods have led some scholars to consider him the first ethnohistorian, and he is remembered today as much for his ethnographic and linguistic documentation of the Nahua peoples and Aztec civilization as for his missionary work. Presented here is a 16th-century lectionary based on the Gospels and Epistles to be used during Sunday services and on feast days throughout the church year, translated from Latin into Nahuatl, possibly by Sahagún or his colleague in Mexico, Father Alonso de Molina, a fluent Nahuatl speaker and author of the first Nahuatl−Spanish dictionary published in the New World. Readings begin with the first Sunday in Advent, and continue through the seasons of the church year, including Epiphany, Lent, the Passion season, Easter, and Pentecost. Readings also are given for celebrating feast days, such as the Purification of the Virgin, the Annunciation, and the Invention (Finding) of the Holy Cross, as well as the feast days of important Catholic saints, such as Sebastian, Mark, and Barnabas. The lectionary features decorated initials and an inscription from a former owner, Phelipe de Baldes (Felipe de Valdez), to Adán Inquaci, an Indian. The document is a key primary source for understanding Sahagún's interpretation of Christianity and the Roman Catholic liturgy for his Nahua audience.

Trilingual Manuscript Copy of Part Two of Antonio de Nebrija’s “Dictionarium ex Hispaniensi in Latinum Sermonem”

Fray Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico from Spain in 1529 and stayed until his death in 1590. He worked with the indigenous peoples of the area to document their cultures and religions, in large part motivated by the conviction that better understanding of their beliefs and practices would improve the efforts to convert them to Christianity. His methods have led some scholars to consider him the first ethnohistorian, and he is remembered today as much for his ethnographic and linguistic documentation of the Nahua peoples and Aztec civilization as for his missionary work. This manuscript is a copy of part two (Spanish−Latin) of Antonio de Nebrija's Dictionarium, with Nahuatl equivalents added for each entry. It was possibly created by Sahagún around 1540, when his efforts to document the indigenous peoples of this area were beginning; however, authorship of the manuscript is disputed, and another theory posits that the dictionary has a native Nahua author. Spanish words and phrases, from "A" to "Zorzal," are followed by their equivalents in Latin and Nahuatl. The manuscript also includes notes on its first two leaves, in Spanish and Nahuatl, on the seven deadly sins; these notes were added later. Whatever its actual authorship, the document is an important primary source for studying the early efforts of the Spanish and Nahua peoples to communicate with and understand each other.

Exercises in Nahuatl Taken from the Holy Gospel

Fray Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico from Spain in 1529 and stayed until his death in 1590. He worked with the indigenous peoples of the area to document their cultures and religions, in large part motivated by the conviction that better understanding of their beliefs and practices would improve the efforts to convert them to Christianity. His methods have led some scholars to consider him the first ethnohistorian, and he is remembered today as much for his ethnographic and linguistic documentation of the Nahua peoples and Aztec civilization as for his missionary work. The volume presented here is a contemporary manuscript copy of Sahagún's 1574 correction and reworking of an anonymous compilation of biblical readings and meditations in the Nahuatl language, part of his “Postilla,” or scriptural commentaries, used in missionary work among the Aztecs and Nahua. An introductory section of five pages is followed by meditations based on readings from the Gospels for each day of the week. Themes from the readings include the angel's announcement of the birth of Christ to the shepherds; the young Jesus teaching the elders in the temple; and Christ establishing the sacrament of Holy Communion. The trilingual meditation on the Eucharist contains the liturgy in Latin, followed by Spanish glosses, and explanations in Nahuatl of the ceremony and its significance. It is a key primary source for understanding Sahagún's interpretation of Christianity and the Roman Catholic liturgy for his Nahua audience.

A Sequence of Sermons for Sundays and Saints’ Days in Nahuatl

Fray Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico from Spain in 1529 and stayed until his death in 1590. He worked with the indigenous peoples of the area to document their cultures and religions, in large part motivated by the conviction that better understanding of their beliefs and practices would improve the efforts to convert them to Christianity. His methods have led some scholars to consider him the first ethnohistorian, and he is remembered today as much for his ethnographic and linguistic documentation of the Nahua peoples and Aztec civilization as for his missionary work. This work is a compilation of sermons in the Nahuatl language by Sahagún, begun in 1540, and revised and corrected in 1563, part of his “Postilla,” or scriptural commentaries, used in missionary work among the Aztecs. The cycle of Sunday sermons for the church year is incomplete, beginning with the first Sunday in Advent, and concluding with the 19th Sunday after Pentecost and a single sermon for the last Sunday before Advent. The cycle of sermons for saints' days, the "Santoral," is also incomplete, containing sermons in honor of only a few saints (Andrew, Thomas, Stephen, and John). The manuscript includes marginalia in Sahagún's hand, such as comments, additions, and explanations, and is on the native maguey paper also used to create Aztec codices. It is a key primary source for understanding Sahagún's interpretation of Christianity for his Nahua audience.

A Sequence of Twenty-Six Additions to the Admonitions

Fray Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico from Spain in 1529 and stayed until his death in 1590. He worked with the indigenous peoples of the area to document their cultures and religions, in large part motivated by the conviction that better understanding of their beliefs and practices would improve the efforts to convert them to Christianity. His methods have led some scholars to consider him the first ethnohistorian, and he is remembered today as much for his ethnographic and linguistic documentation of the Nahua peoples and Aztec civilization as for his missionary work. This manuscript is a key primary source for understanding Sahagún's interpretation of Christianity for his Nahua audience. It contains a bilingual text of the "Addiciones," additions written by Sahagún to supplement the “Postilla,” or scriptural commentaries, used in missionary work among the Aztecs and Nahua. The additions explain the three Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity, with charity receiving the longest treatment. The final three chapters describe the punishments of hell; the rewards of virtue in the glories of heaven; and death and the Day of Judgment. There is also a fragment of text containing tenonotzaliztli (moral and doctrinal admonitions) condemning native rituals. An appendix copied by one of Sahagún’s scribes, Alonso Vegerano, also condemns Indian religious beliefs, with special emphasis on the role of the devil in Indian life.

Fairy Tales from Past Times

Contes du temps passé (Fairy tales from past times) by Charles Perrault (1628–1703) were published in parts between 1691 and 1697. Perrault polished the texts, reworking the various legends he collected while staying true to the original storylines. His picturesque storytelling reflected in part the popular culture of the time: he purposefully used archaic terms, archetypes (such as the king, the ogre, the cruel stepmother), and a style reminiscent of oral storytelling (with formulas such as “once upon a time” and such repetitions as “Anna my sister Anna”). His tales are also literally anchored in their times: stories are short, the fantastic is viewed with a certain irony, decors are realistic, and certain events unmistakably place the plots in the 17th century. The tales also have an educational aspect, as each ends with a moral. Perrault’s works are so rich that they have been interpreted from all perspectives—historical, sociological, political, ethnological, psychoanalytical—while always remaining fresh and timeless. Presented here is a richly illustrated edition from the 19th century, which omits a few of the tales, transforms a few others (for example, "Donkey Skin" is told in prose rather than poetry), and eliminates the morals as well as the preface by Perrault. The main work is preceded by a long essay on the life and work of Charles Perrault by Emile de La Bédollière. These tales, to which everyone can relate, have become an integral part of Western culture. Included in this edition are “Les Fées” (Diamonds and Toads), “le Petit Chaperon rouge” (Little Red Riding Hood), “Barbe bleue” (Bluebeard), “le Chat botté (The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots), “la Belle au bois dormant” (The Sleeping Beauty), “Cendrillon” (Cinderella), “le Petit Poucet” (Hop o' My Thumb), “Riquet à la Houppe” (Riquet with the Tuft), and “Peau d’Ane” (Donkey Skin).

Gaspard of the Night: Fantasies in the Manner of Rembrandt and Callot

Louis-Jacques Napoléon Bertrand (also known by the more poetic pen name of Aloysius) is the author of only one book, Gaspard de la Nuit (Gaspard of the night). Born in 1807, he moved to Paris in 1833 and became an acquaintance of authors Victor Hugo and Charles Nodier. Poor and very ill, Bertrand lived in and out of hospitals from 1838 until his death from tuberculosis in 1841. His friend David d’Angers was the only person to accompany his casket to his final resting place. Bertrand reworked and refined his Gaspard de la Nuit until his last breath. Published in November 1842, with a preface by Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, the collection of prose poems had a large influence on later generations. Charles Baudelaire declared Aloysius Bertrand the inventor of prose poetry, and Lautréamont (pseudonym of Isidore Lucien Ducasse), Maurice Maeterlinck, Stéphane Mallarmé (who wrote that he was “by his condensed and precious style, one of our brothers”), as well as André Breton and Paul Éluard followed in his footsteps. Gaspard de la Nuit was a highly original work. Composed of six thematic “books,” it breathes an atmosphere that is both medieval and fantastic, with an ironic and even grotesque flavor. The whole work finds structure in an unusual, condensed and sharp style, a far cry from the exuberance of romanticism. Most important is the image, the chiaroscuro, in the style of Rembrandt and Callot, the two antithetical faces of art: calm and philosophical or dangerous and bohemian. The work suggests one object echoing another as in a hall of mirrors: C'est Ondine qui frôle de ces gouttes d'eau les losanges sonores de ta fenêtre illuminée par les mornes rayons de la lune (It is Ondine who brushes drops of water on the resonant panes of your windows lit by the gloomy rays of the moon).

The Confession of a Child of the Century

La Confession d'un enfant du siècle (Confession of a child of the century) is a novel written by the French poet Alfred de Musset (1810–57) when he was 26 years old. It depicts the love affair of a young man named Octave, who, betrayed by his mistress, becomes cynical and drowns his sorrows in alcohol and debauchery. He then falls in love with Brigitte, but his jealous tendencies, his desire to “touch misfortune, otherwise called truth,” put a strain on their relationship. So he decides to let go of his lover, willingly condemning himself to a life of unhappiness. This text, partially autobiographical, was written after Musset and George Sand (pseudonym of Amandine Lucile Aurore Dupin, 1804−76) broke off their relationship. While Musset accepted responsibility for the failure of the relationship, in this novel he turned their story into a tale of lovers who were cursed, akin to Romeo and Juliet. He also imparted to it an additional dimension: in his story, feelings create a connection between the individual existence of people and their social destiny. After the French Revolution and the end of the Empire, there “came upon a world in ruins an anxious truth…. Frightful despair stalked over the earth.” In Musset’s portrayal of society, the ideal and the dream have disappeared. In this closed, empty, and boring world, hypocrisy and cynicism rule. Only love is able to transcend the “cold star of reason,” but Octave no longer believes in absolutes and his dismay intensifies. This novel, typical of the emblematic disappointment of romanticism, is presented here in its original version, published in 1836.

Cameo with Portrait of Louis XIV

This cameo, in a red-tinged onyx in three layers mounted on gold and colored enamel, represents King Louis XIV as a teenager. The triumphant crown on his head is a direct reference to ancient Rome and the Roman generals. This exaltation of royal power foretells the military success of the future king. During the years of his personal reign (1661−1715), Louis XIV continually pushed out the borders of the kingdom of France to the north and east, reaching the city of Lille and several other major towns as well as the Franche-Comté region and the city of Strasbourg. He pursued a policy aimed at enlarging the country and rationalizing its borders, which were protected by the citadels of the “iron belt,” built by the military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633−1707), who fortified the towns conquered by the French military.

Portraits of Louis the Great at Various Ages

Shown here is a bronze engraving on which ten medallions are attached, each of which contains, behind a glass plate, a portrait of Louis XIV (the Sun King) at a different stage of his life. The portraits are painted in grey tones on paper glued onto metal, and they depict the king at five, ten, 16, 22, 28, 34, 40, 46, 54 and 59 years of age. The frame is crowned by the sun above a globe adorned with three lily flowers surrounded by the zodiac, with the inscription micat inter omnes (he shines among all). The background of the frame is a horn plate dyed on the back in cobalt blue, split in many places. The miniatures were painted in 1704 by Antoine Benoist (1632−1717), painter and wax sculptor of the king. This panel and its matching counterpart were sent to the Cabinet des Médailles on January 18, 1797 (29 Nivôse, Year V of the Republican calendar used in the period of the French Revolution) by Villette, chief executive of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, the furniture and art depository of the crown.