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A Catalogue of Pre-1840 Nahuatl Works Held by The Lilly Library: a machine-readable transcription

By John Frederick Schwaller

Transcribed from:

The Indiana University Bookman. No. 11. November, 1973: 69-88.

Lilly Library call number: Z1007 .I392 no. 11

A Catalogue of Pre-1840 Nahuatl Works Held by The Lilly Library

By John Frederick Schwaller

The earliest book known to have been printed in the New World was in Nahuatl. Nahuatl is the name of the Aztec language, spoken throughout central Mexico before the Spanish conquest; and this first book known to have been printed was the Breve y mas compendiosa doctrina cristiana en lengua mexicana y castellana published in 1539. There are other books which have a claim to having been the first book printed in the Americas, since much of the history of early printing in Mexico remains unclear. Nevertheless, the amount of evidence in favor of the Doctrina cristiana makes its publication, if not its primacy, a certainty, although no copies exist today.

One of the main reasons for the establishment of a printing press in Mexico centered around the need for materials to aid in the "spiritual conquest" of the area, the conversion of the conquered Aztec empire to Christianity. Thus it should come as no surprise that one of the first, if not the first, book printed in Mexico would be in Nahuatl. Throughout the next three centuries, the Nahuatl language continued to occupy a position of importance in the output of Mexican presses. Yet even through three centuries publications in Nahuatl did not lose their didactic nature, serving in the Christian education of the Indians.

The Mendel Collection of the Lilly Library at Indiana University reflects the significance of Nahuatl in the history of Mexican printing. While the collection does not contain all works printed in Nahuatl between 1539 and 1840 it does faithfully represent the output of that period. Of the less than 150 Nahuatl works extant from the period, the Mendel Collection contains 56.

In formulating this catalogue certain guidelines were followed. For several reasons the year 1840 serves as a suitable upper limit for its chronological scope. First, it makes the range of the study an even three centuries, 1539-1840. Secondly, since the Mendel Collection, and the Lilly Library in general, hold rare books, books printed after 1840 would likely appear in the General Collection of the Indiana University Library. Lastly, works printed in the Nahuatl after 1840 exhibit a different type of emphasis. By the middle of the nineteenth century works in and dealing with Nahuatl became more analytical and less creative. Production shifted from that of religious works, grammars, and dictionaries for clerics to linguistic studies and secular works for the educated and scientifically-oriented public.

At present much of the Mendel Collection has not been permanently catalogued. Thus in order to formulate this study many titles had to be located from other sources and then checked against the Collection's temporary catalogue. In this endeavor the most important aids were José Toribio Medina's La imprenta en México, 8 vols. (Santiago de Chile, 1907-1912) and his La imprenta en la Puebla de los Angeles (Santiago de Chile, 1923). These sources were consulted to locate works in Nahuatl or "lengua mexicana" as it was known in the colonial period. In general, if the title appeared in Spanish and no mention of Nahuatl appeared in the title or description it was assumed that the work contained no Nahuatl. In order to cross-check titles from Medina, and to locate possible titles not in Medina, the Ugarte Catálogo, García Icazbalceta's Apuntes, the Pilling Proofsheets, and Viñaza's Bibliografía were consulted. Works containing only a few words in Nahuatl did not qualify for inclusion in this catalogue. Yet any work with a substantial portion, although not completely, in Nahuatl was included.

This listing will be arranged chronologically according to the earliest edition held by the Lilly. Mention will be made of later editions held by the Lilly under the first reference to that work. The Medina catalogue number will be given for works listed in that bibliographic source. Following the citation of the title and publication data any interesting information concerning the book, its author, or the Lilly edition will appear.



Dominicans. Doctrina cristiana en lengua española y mexicana, Mexico: Juan Pablos, 1550.

Medina Mexico 17.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .D67 D63 1550 vault

While the Lilly holds earlier examples of Mexican incunables, this is the earliest containing Nahuatl. The copy held by the Lilly Library is a variant of the edition cited by Medina. As will be seen, many of the works in Nahuatl have the title of Doctrina cristiana. These works are statements of Christian doctrine which served as catechisms. The Lilly copy of this work in Spanish and Nahuatl was bound with a similar work in Spanish only: Gutierre Gonzalez' Libra de doctrina de la Christiana religion [n.p., 15--].


Molina, Alonso de . (ca.1513- 1585) Aqui comiença un vocabulario en la lengua castellana y mexicana. [Mexico: Juan Pablos, 1555].

Medina Mexico 24.

Lilly Library call number: PM4066 .M7 A6 1555 vault

The history of this very important work is a story in itself. As will be seen, Alonso de Molina, a Franciscan, was by far the most important figure in the effort to spread Nahuatl among the early colonists and missionaries. Molina came to the New World as a child and learned Nahuatl from playmates and his nurses. Then when he entered the priesthood he used this early contact with the language in his missionary activities and in the training of other priests. As with most authors of works printed in Nahuatl, his first production was a catechism, printed in 1546. However, since no copies of that work still exist his second work, this Vocabulario, is the oldest extant. A vocabulario is a dictionary, and in this case a Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary. This Vocabulario is the first Nahuatl dictionary published. The copy held by the Lilly has fly leaves which are pages from the Dominican Doctrina cited above ( see no. 1).

The Vocabulario of 1555 was revised, augmented, and reprinted in 1571. This work, Vocabulario en lengua castellana y mexicana; Mexico: Antonio de Spinosa, 1571; Medina Mexico 65, is one of the most famous of the early works from the Mexican printers. The Lilly holds a copy of this edition. To this day the 1571 edition of Molina's Vocabulario ranks as one of the definitive Nahuatl dictionaries, being reprinted in facsimile as late as 1970.


Molina, Alonso de. Confessionario breve. En lengua mexicana. [Mexico, 1563/1564?]

Wagner 122.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .M7 C7 vault

A confessionario is a handbook for priests dealing with the confessing of their parishioners. Because of the language gap in the early years of the Christianizing mission in Mexico, many handbooks such as this one were written to aid the Spanish priest in his ministry among the Indians. These works contain both the questions to be asked, phrased in Nahuatl, as well as forms of possible response along with their Spanish translation.

This particular copy is considered by some to be the first edition of this work by Molina. Since the Lilly copy lacks both a title page and a colophon, the place and date of publication are uncertain. Adding to the confusion, a facsimile of the title page of a different edition, of 1565, was inserted. The 1565 edition gained the recognition as the first edition from many scholars. The Lilly also holds a copy of this: Confessionario breve, en lengua mexicana y castellana. Mexico: Antonio de Espinosa, 1565, Medina Mexico 48. In addition to this complete copy the Lilly holds another copy which lacks a title page and which is bound with a larger later work by Molina, his Confessionario mayor ( see below no. 4).


Molina, Alonso de. [Confessionario mayor, en lengua mexicana y castellana. Mexico: Antonio de Espinosa, 1565]

Medina Mexico 49.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .M7 C7 1565a vault

This work is an expanded version of the Confessionario breve. But rather than being just a larger edition, its slightly different format and larger scope warrant its consideration as a separate work. As noted above, the Lilly copy is bound with a copy of the 1565 Confessionario breve. The copy also lacks a title page and one leaf.

The Lilly Library also holds a copy of a later edition of this work: Confessionario mayor. En la lengua mexicana y castellana. Mexico: Pedro Balli, 1578. Medina Mexico 86.


Molina, Alonso de. Arte de la lengua mexicana y castellana. Mexico: Pedro Ocharte, 1571.

Medina Mexico 64.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .M7 A7 1571 vault

This work rounds out Molina's study of and work with Nahuatl. Its title, Arte de la lengua mexicana, tells that it is a grammar of Nahuatl. This work can be seen as a compilation of rules of the language based on a lifetime of contact and investigation. Much of what modern scholars know about Nahuatl as spoken and used in the sixteenth century is based on this presentation given by Molina. This particular work also ranks as the first printed grammar of Nahuatl.

Most of the works by Molina were reprinted periodically throughout the period covered by this catalogue. Molina's works represent the standard types of books in Nahuatl: dictionaries, grammars, and religious works such as catechisms, confessionaries, and collections of sermons.


Juan de la Anunciación. (1514?-1594.) Sermonario en lengua mexicana . . . con un cathecismo en lengua mexicana y española, con el calendario. Mexico: Antonio Ricardo, 1577.

Medina Mexico 78.

Lilly Library call number: BX1756 .J91 vault

Juan de la Anunciación was born in Granada and came to the New World as a youth. In Mexico he took the habit of St. Augustine and became a missionary. This book is at least the partial result of that ministry, being a compilation of sermons in Nahuatl, a catechism, and a calendar of saint's days. These compilations of sermons were quite popular in the sixteenth century because with a sermonario and a confessionario a Spanish priest who knew no Nahuatl could at least attempt to minister among the Indians. The Lilly copy of this work has sixteenth-century manuscript fly leaves.


Rincón, Antonio del. (1556-1601) Arte mexicana. Mexico: Pedro Balli, 1595.

Medina Mexico 135.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .R57 vault

Rincón is the first locally-born author to appear in this catalogue. Although born of Spanish parents in Texcoco, just outside of Mexico City, he became interested in Nahuatl. Entering the Society of Jesus he spent his life teaching Indians not Christian doctrine but arts and letters. Thus this work on the grammar of Nahuatl represents not so much practical hints on how to use the language but a scholarly treatise on the structured language.


Juan Bautista. (1555-c1613) Confessionario en lengua mexicana y castellana. [Mexico] Melchior Ocharte, 1599.

Medina Mexico 152.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .J91 vault

The Lilly Library has two copies of this work. One copy is imperfect (lacking a title page and leaves 1-2, 7, 74- 75, which are supplied in facsimile) and disbound. The other copy is complete and bound. The imperfect copy has both text and errata of print and format type "B" as described by Medina. The complete copy has text identified as type "A" and errata of type "B."

Juan Bautista was a Franciscan born in Mexico City. He learned Nahuatl as an adult at the University, and then dedicated the rest of his life to studying the earlier works in the language, as well as to its current evolution. This confessionario was the first of the many works he wrote in Nahuatl (see below no. 10 and no. 11).


[Petrus a Gandavo] (d. 1572) [Doctrina cristiana en lengua mexicana. Mexico, 15—.]

Wagner 19?

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .P49 D63 vault

The copy which the Lilly holds has about one third of the leaves and lacks a title page. Comparison was made with the copy held at the University of Texas and it was concluded that these leaves most certainly form part of the work by Petrus a Gandavo, known as Peter of Ghent, but were probably a variant or a later edition. The size of the Lilly fragment does not permit the exact identification of the edition.

Peter of Ghent ranks as one of the greatest figures in the early missionary effort in Mexico. He arrived in 1523 only two years after the fall of the Aztec empire. Very quickly he set about Christianizing the Indians. Many consider him the father of Mexican education since he established one of the first schools in the New World at Texcoco. He later helped to found the famous Colegio de Tlatelolco in Mexico City for the education and training of the sons of the Indian chiefs.


Juan Bautista. Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales. Mexico: Melchior Ocharte, 1600.

Medina Mexico 163.

Lilly Library call number: BX1757 .J91 vault

This two volume work is another handbook for confessors. The actual text contains parts in three languages: Nahuatl, Spanish, and Latin. This particular edition is possibly the second edition.


Juan Bautista. Sermonario en lengua mexicana . . . Primera parte. Mexico: Diego López Dávalos, 1606.

Medina Mexico 227.

Lilly Library call number: BX1756 .J8

According to all sources only the first volume of this proposed multi-volume collection of sermons was ever published. Nevertheless, the one volume which did appear is considered to be one of the finest examples of religious writing in Nahuatl. The copy of this work held by the Lilly lacks a title page and a final leaf, with the title page supplied in facsimile.


León, Martín de . (fl. 1600) Camino del cielo en lengua mexicana. Mexico: Diego López Dávalos, 1611.

Medina Mexico 260.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068 .L57

This is the first edition of León's work and the only edition held by the Lilly. A general handbook to be used by a parish priest in aiding his parishioners in achieving a Christian life, it contains a religious calendar, a catechism, and guides for confessions. The book is largely in Nahuatl. This particular edition is considered to be rare. (For other works by León see no. 18.)


Alva, Bartolomé . (fl.1630) [Confessionario mayor y menor en lengua mexicana. Mexico: Francisco Salbago, 1634.]

Medina Mexico 444.

Lilly Library call number: BX1958 .S7 1634

The Lilly Library holds two copies of this work. One copy lacks a title page, three preliminary leaves, and the first three leaves of text. Both copies are bound with copies of Manuel Perez' Cathecismo romano (see no. 25). According to Beristain de Sousa, Bartolomé Alva was a descendant of the old Indian kings of Texcoco. Among his other works are included the translation of several of Lope de Vega's plays to Nahuatl.


Lorra Baquio, Francisco de. (d. 1669) Manual mexicana de la administración de los santos sacramentos . Mexico: Diego Gutiérrez, 1634.

Medina Mexico 446.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .L86 M29 Mendel Room

Lorra Baquio was a parish priest in the bishopric of Puebla, to the east of Mexico City. This work serves as a guide to the administration of the sacraments. Unlike earlier works it deals with all of the sacraments as is the one noted above. It is written in Spanish Latin, confessions. This type of handbook became quite popular during the middle of the seventeenth century, especially in the bishopric of Puebla, as will be seen later.

The Library copy of this work is shelved as part of a permanent display collection of works in the Mendel Room of the Lilly Library.


Contreras Gallardo, Pedro. Manual de administrar los santos sacramentos a los españoles y naturales desta Nueva España. Mexico: Juan Ruiz, 1638.

Medina Mexico 502.

Lilly Library call number: BX2200 .C764 Mendel Room

This is also a general handbook for the administration of the sacraments as is the one noted above. It is written in Spanish, Latin, and Nahuatl, and is concerned with both Spanish and Indian parishioners.


Sáenz de la Peña, Andrés. Manual de los santos sacramentos. Mexico: Francisco Robledo, 1642.

Medina Mexico 565.

Lilly Library call number: BX2200 .S12

This work continues in the tradition of the two previous. Nevertheless, it was by far the most successful, having at least seven later editions. Sáenz de la Peña was a cleric in the bishopric of Puebla during the episcopacy of Juan de Palafox y Mendoza. Because of this prelate's preference for this work, as shown by his coat of arms at the beginning, in many of the later editions Sáenz de la Peña's name does not even appear while Palafox's does. This led to many scholars attributing later editions to Palafox.

The Library holds one of these later editions lacking Sáenz de la Peña's name: Manual de los santos sacramentos. Mexico: Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1758. Medina Mexico 4481.


Carochi, Horacio . (d. 1662) Arte de la lengua mexicana con la declaración de los adverbios della. Mexico: Juan Ruiz, 1645.

Medina Mexico 594.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .C29

Carochi was born in Florence and entered the Society of Jesus in Rome. He then went on to the New World. It is said that he learned Nahuatl and Otomí, another Indian language, from Antonio del Rincón (see no. 7). Carochi was very active in central Mexico at the same time as Bishop Palafox. For those interested in the historical evolution of the language this grammar book is very useful. The work was viewed as being important soon after its publication. By 1759 it was re-edited by Ignacio Paredes and reprinted. The Mendel Collection also contains a copy of this later edition: Carochi, Horacio. Compendia del arte de la lengua mexicana. Mexico: Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1759. Medina Mexico 4534.


León, Martín. Manual breve y forma de administrar los santos sacramentos a los indios. Mexico: Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1669.

Medina Mexico 1015.

Lilly Library call number: BX1912 .L57 1669

This title is a later edition of a work first published in 1617. The Mendel Collection holds only this later edition, however. The work is a general handbook for the administration of the sacraments. It is written mostly in Latin with some Spanish and Nahuatl.


Vetancurt, Augustín de. 1620-1700. Arte de la lengua mexicana. Mexico: Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1673.

Medina Mexico 1103.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .V58 1673

Augustin de Vetancurt, or Betancur, not only was a student of Nahuatl but also a historian, writing the standard histories of the Franciscans in Mexico and of the Mexican church as a whole. This particular work falls at the end of his first period of writings during which most of the works were in or about Nahuatl. The Lilly copy of this work is part of the first issue of the first edition.


Arenas, Pedro de. (fl. 1600) Vocabulario manual de las lenguas castellana y mexicana. Mexico: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1683.

Medina Mexico 1271.

Lilly Library call number: PM4066 .A682 1683

In terms of the sheer number of editions, this Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary must have been one of the most popular. It was first printed sometime before 1611, for that is the date of the second edition. During the next 220 years this work went through eleven editions, as far as can be discovered. The copy of the above edition held by the Lilly lacks pages 69-72. In addition to this edition the Lilly Library has three others, to be cited only by place of publication, publisher, date, and bibliography number:

  • a. Mexico: Francisco Rivera de Calderón [1728?]. Medina Mexico 2978.
  • b. Puebla: Pedro de la Rosa, 1793. Medina Puebla 1248.
  • c. Puebla: Hospital de San Pedro, 1831. Palau 15930.


Vázquez Gaztelu, Antonio. Arte de la lengua mexicana. Puebla: Diego Fernández de León, 1689.

Medina Puebla 125.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .V39 Mendel Room

This particular work went through at least three editions. The second edition appeared in 1693 and the third in 1726. The Mendel Collection has a copy of the third, an edition revised by Antonio de Olmedo: Puebla: Francisco Xavier de Morales y Sálazar, 1726. Medina Puebla 361.


Pérez, Manuel. (fl. 1713- 1726) Farol indiano y guía de curos de indios. Mexico: Francisco Rivera Calderón, 1713.

Medina Mexico 2370.

Lilly Library call number: BX1757 .P43 Mendel Room

This delightful work, whose English title would be Indian Lantern, is, as described in its subtitle, a guide for ministers among Indians. A large part of it is written in parallel column Spanish and Nahuatl. This was the first of many works written by Pérez. He had excellent qualifications for writing in and about Nahuatl since he held the professorship of that language for 22 years.


Pérez, Manuel. Arte de el idioma mexicano. Mexico: Francisco de Ribera Calderón, 1713.

Medina Mexico 2371.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .P43

After Pérez had written his handbook for parish priests he set about codifying his teaching methods in this presentation of Nahuatl grammar. It must not have been too well received for it was not reprinted. The Library's copy is disbound.


Avila, Francisco de. Arte de la lengua mexicana. Mexico: Herederos de la viuda de Miguel de Ribera Calderón, 1717.

Medina Mexico 2478.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .A9

Avila was a parish priest in Milpa Alta in the bishopric of Mexico, a Nahuatl-speaking village even to this day. In this work Avila not only made a presentation of Nahuatl grammar, as the title shows, but he combined it with various homilies and moral speeches on the rites and mysteries of the Church and on the obligation of worship.


Pérez, Manuel, tr. Cathecismo romano traducido en castellano y mexicano. Mexico: Francisco de Rivera Calderón, 1723.

Medina Mexico 2719.

Lilly Library call number: BX1958 .S7 1723

The Lilly has two copies of this work. Oddly enough both are bound with copies of Bartolomé Alva's Cofessionario mayor y menor (see no. 14). This work by Pérez is actually a translation of the accepted Roman catechism, which is interesting because in 1585 the Mexican bishops authorized an official catechism different from that of the Roman Church (see no. 30).


Saavedra, Marcos de. (d. 1631) Confessionario breve activo y passivo en lengua mexicana. Mexico: Maria de Rivera, 1746.

Medina Mexico 1746.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068 .S11

Very little is known about the author of this short (8 leaves) confessional handbook. Most interestingly the title states specifically that it deals both with active and passive confession, that is both the questions to ask as well as what responses to expect.


Tapia Centeno, Carlos de. Arte novíssima de lengua mexicana. Mexico: Viuda de Joseph Bernardo de Hogal, 1753.

Medina Mexico 4142.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .T172 Mendel Room

Tapia Centeno was an accomplished student not only of Nahuatl but also of Huastec. He held the professorship of Nahuatl at the Royal and Pontifical University, a position which probably prompted the writing of the "up to date" grammar.


Aldama y Guevara, José Augustín. Arte de la lengua mexicana. [Mexico]: Imprenta nueva de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1754.

Medina Mexico 4155.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .A35

Aldama y Guevara was also a professor of Nahuatl. Rather than set out on his own and write a really modern grammar like Tapia Centeno, Aldama's grammar is a synthesis of the many which came earlier. The Lilly copy is bound with his Alabado (see no. 29).


Aldama y Guevara, José Augustín. Alabado en lengua mexicana. Mexico: Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1755.

Medina Mexico 4218.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .A35

This is a religious hymn in praise of the sacrament of communion. Religious works of this kind were very popular in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.


Ripalda, Gerónimo de. (1536-1618) Paredes, Ignacio de, tr. & ed. Catecismo mexicano. Mexico: Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1758.

Medina Mexico 4500.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .R5 1758

The catechism written by Gerónimo de Ripalda was authorized by the Mexican Provincial Council of 1585 as the official catechism to be used throughout the Archdiocese and Dioceses of Mexico. Several translations were made, but this edition is considered to be the definitive one. The work also contains a statement of doctrine by Bartolomé Castaño.


Paredes, Ignacio de. (b. 1703) Promptuario manual mexicano. Mexico: Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1759.

Medina Mexico 4568.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .P22 1759

This general handbook of rules and canon law also contains several sermons and moral speeches, all put together for the use of local priests. It is mostly in Nahuatl and Spanish with Latin throughout.


Velázquez de Cárdenas y León, Carlos Celedonio. Breve práctica y régimen del confessionario de indios, en mexicano y castellano. Mexico: Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1761.

Medina Mexico 4747.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .V43

According to Beristain de Souza, Velázquez was himself an Indian. This book as well as being a handbook for confessions also outlines the proper way to make a confession, from the stand point of the penitent and the priest.


Cortés y Zedeño, Jerónimo Tomás de Aquino. Arte, vocabulario, y confessionario en el idioma mexicano, como se usa en el Obispado de Guadalajara. Puebla: Colegio Real de San Ignacio, 1765.

Medina Puebla 729.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .C82 A78

Cortés y Zedeño was a resident of the Bishopric of Guadalajara. This work is a very interesting one, dealing as it does with the Nahuatl spoken west of the central Mexican area.


Pérez de Velasco, Andrés Miguel. El ayudante de cura. Puebla: Colegio Real de San Ignacio, 1766.

Medina Puebla 778.

Lilly Library call number: BX1912 .P43

Pérez de Velasco lived in Puebla and was active in the Church and in the educational activities in the area. This is the second of two books he wrote covering the major problems of the parish priest. The first prepares the priest for his duties; this serves as a field handbook.


Granados y Gálvez, Joseph Joaquin. (d. 1794) Tardes americanas: gobierno gentil y católico. Mexico: Felipe Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1778.

Medina Mexico 7000.

Lilly Library call number: F1229 .G74 T18

Although this work contains little in Nahuatl, its inclusion is warranted because of its emphasis on the Indians' condition at the time. It is supposedly a dialogue between a Spaniard and an Indian.


Sandoval, Rafael Tiburcio. Arte de la lengua mexicana. Mexico: Alejandro Valdés, 1810.

Medina Mexico 10514.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .S21

According to Beristain de Sousa, Sandoval was born to a noble Indian family descended from Aztec chiefs and noble Spaniards. It is known that he was a parish priest and professor of Nahuatl at the University. This work is one of the last grammars to be written before the War for Independence. This particular edition seems to be a later edition of an earlier work. It contains a statement of doctrine by Ignacio de Paredes at the end.


Venegas, Francisco Xavier. "Ayamo moyolpachihuitia in Totlatocatzin Rey D. Fernando VII" . [Mexico: 1810].

Gonzalez de Cossio 580.

Lilly Library call number: AC88 .M6 M8 1810 Oct. 5

This is a broadside published by order of Viceroy Venegas. On October 5, 1811, decrees were printed, in Spanish and Nahuatl, abolishing Indian tribute payments to the king in an attempt to lessen the effect of the Hidalgo revolt among the Indians.


Clara y sucinta exposición del pequeño catecismo. Puebla: Oratorio de S. Felipe Neri, 1819.

Medina Puebla 1678.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .C592

This small catechism is one of several held by the Lilly from this period. For one reason or another it seems the publication of devotional literature, in Nahuatl as well as in Spanish, shifts to Puebla after the first battles of the Independence period. This particular work is in Spanish and Nahuatl on facing pages numbered in duplicate.


Alabado que contiene los actos de fe, esperanza, caridad, y contrición en idioma mexicano. Puebla: Imprenta Nacional, 1832.

Palau 4478.

Lilly Library call number: BX2169 .A316

The Spanish edition of this devotional work was very popular in the early part of the nineteenth century, and went through several printings. This is, however, the only Nahuatl edition encountered. The Lilly's copy is bound with a Nahuatl translation of Leonardo Portomauricio's Meditaciones del Santo Via Crucis (see no. 41).


Explicación clara y sucinta de los principales misterios de nuestra Santa Fe. Puebla: Hospital de San Pedro, 1835.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .E96 Mendel Room

As was noted Puebla became the center for much of the publication of religious materials. This is an example of one of the many catechisms printed during the period. The previous work was a praise hymn of the acts of faith, hope, and charity. During this period the output is dominantly religious with few grammars or dictionaries being printed.


Portomauricio, Leonardo de. Meditaciones del Santo Via Crucis. Puebla: Hospital de San Pedro, 1837.

Lilly Library call number: BX2169 .A316

Juan de San José, a religious, translated this work into Nahuatl from the original Latin. The work was also quite popular in its Spanish translation. The Lilly copy is bound with the Alabado que contiene los actos (see no. 39).


Almeida, Teodoro de. Piadoso devocionario del Sagrado Corazón de Jesus. Orizaba: Felix Mendarte, 1839.

Palau 8014.

Lilly Library call number: BX2158 .A44 P57

This devotional booklet concerns the cult of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The most interesting aspect of this work is that it was published in Orizaba, east of Puebla on the way to Veracruz, and thus demonstrates the spread of printing following independence, just as the printing of religious materials spread to Puebla during the struggle for independence.


Amaro, Juan Romualdo, ed. Doctrina extractada de los catecismos mexicanos de los padres Paredes, Carochi, y Castaño. Mexico: Abadiano y Valdes, 1840.

Palau 10740.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .D637

Essentially this is a synthesis of three of the most popular catechisms written during the colonial period. Amaro also translated various parts into Nahuatl, especially those taken from Paredes which were written in Spanish. The Lilly Library copy of this work has the bookplate of the famous Mexican bibliophile of the nineteenth century, Joaquin García Icazbalceta.


Compendia del confessionario en mexicano y castellano. Puebla: Imprenta Antigua, 1840.

Palau 58515.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .C73

A work which together with the previous one brings the evolution of Nahuatl publications almost full circle, as a compilation of confessional handbooks. From beginning to end within the three centuries under consideration Nahuatl publications were geared almost completely to religious topics and to the training of Spanish-speaking priests to work in Indian communities.

Additional Titles

The above listed works are by no means all of the Nahuatl titles held by the Lilly Library-merely those published before 1840. There are several other Nahuatl titles which because of their historical value should be included in this list.


Lecciones para las tandas de ejercicios de S. Ignacio dados a los indios en el idioma mexicano. Puebla: Imprenta Antigua, 1841.

Lilly Library call number: PM4068.1 .L45

This work has a certain historical value as the first edition in Nahuatl of St. Ignatius Loyola's spiritual exercises.


Chimalpopocatl Galicia, Faustino. (d. 1877) Silabario de idioma mexicano. Mexico: Imprenta de las Escalerillas, 1849.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .C54

Chimalpopocatl was the most active Nahuatl scholar of the last century. This is one of the basic books which he wrote to re-introduce Nahuatl to Mexico. It is a spelling book and dictionary. The copy held by the Lilly Library is an autograph copy presented by the author to Joaquin García Icazbalceta whose bookplate it bears.


Chimalpopocatl Galicia, Faustino. Epítome o modo fácil de aprender el idioma nahuatl o lengua mexicana. Mexico: Viuda de Murguía e Hijos, 1869.

Lilly Library call number: PM4063 .C53

Purporting to teach Nahuatl the "easy way," this is essentially a companion book to the earlier. It is also an author's autographed copy presented to Joaquin García Icazbalceta and contains the Icazbalceta bookplate.


Biondelli, Bernardino. (1804-1886) Glossarium Azteco-Latinum et Latino-Aztecum. Mediolani: Valentier et Mues, 1869.

Lilly Library call number: PM4066 .B5

This dictionary is based on the work of the sixteenth-century Franciscan, Bernardino de Sahagún. Sahagún was by far the greatest "anthropologist" of his period. He quickly realized the need to collect as much information as possible about the old Indian culture. Using remarkably modern techniques he amassed a wealth of information, and part of the result of his labors was a Nahuatl-Latin dictionary which, however, remained in manuscript until the nineteenth century. Biondelli's work is in large part based on that manuscript.


Simeon, Remi. Dictionaire de la Langue Nahuatl. Paris: 1885.

Lilly Library call number: PM4066 .S589

Just as Biondelli's work was based on a sixteenth-century source so was Simeon's. As part of a French cultural mission to Mexico Simeon became very interested in Nahuatl. He encountered the manuscript edition of Andrés de Olmos' dictionary of Nahuatl. Simeon then translated the Spanish to French, made some revisions, and came out with this dictionary.

Nahuatl Manuscripts

In addition to the above titles, the Lilly Library holds several manuscripts written in Nahuatl. The latest of these, dating from 1856, falls outside the range of this catalogue, but will be included here for completeness.


Felipe II, King of Spain (1527-1598). Grant of land and nobility to the Indians of Tlaxcala. 1556, Aug. 24.

3 leaves.

Lilly Library: Latin American mss. Mexico

This manuscript is most likely a copy of one of the actual grants, dating from the same period as the grant. Included with the statement of the grant in Spanish is an Indian map-painting describing the location of the grant and a Nahuatl translation of the grant.


"Titulos de las casas que compró Catalina Vasques ... en el barrio de Tomatlan." 1562, Oct. 4—1597, Nov. 18 (bound).

35 leaves and folded map.

Lilly Library: Latin American mss. Mexico

The documents in this group of manuscripts pertain to the purchase of several houses in the Tomatlán sector of Mexico City by Catalina Vasques. Most of the documents are in Nahuatl. An Indian map-drawing of the purchased lands is included.


"Cofradía del Santisimo Sacramento." 1570, Oct. 30—1730 (bound).

49 leaves.

Lilly Library: Latin American mss. Mexico

These bound manuscripts are the records of an Indian cofradía. In the Spanish Church a cofradía was a mutual aid society organized around the veneration and maintenance of the altar of a specific saint or relic. Included among these records is the constitution of the cofradía and the account book noting members and dues paid.


Alvarado, Alonso de. Document written in Nahuatl. 1583, Feb. 13.

1 leaf.

Lilly Library: Latin American mss. Mexico II

This document has been ascribed to the son of the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, known in Nahuatl as Tonahuih or Tonalli, the sun. The document itself deals with the assignment of a new priest to the area.


Alvarado Tezozomoc, Fernando. "Crónica Mexicana . . . por los años de 1598." Garcia Figueroa, Francisco, copyist. 1792, Aug. 5 (bound).

637 leaves.

Lilly Library: Latin American mss. Mexico

This is an eighteenth-century copy of a sixteenth-century history of the Aztec people. While this particular copy is of the Spanish version, a Nahuatl version was originally written. Even though the Lilly manuscript is of the Spanish version its historical importance warrants its inclusion.


Chimalpopocatl Galicia, Faustino. Chronology of the Nahuas until 1519. 1856, Apr. 23.

6 leaves.

Lilly Library: Latin American mss. Mexico

As well as being an important scholar of Nahuatl, Chimalpopocatl was also a historian. This manuscript is a chronology of the Aztecs (Nahuas) up until the conquest. Its format includes Aztec pictograms along the left edge of each page expressing the years of the chronology.

One should not assume that these books are the extent of the Lilly's holdings in Nahuatl or of materials pertaining to the study of that nation. In addition to the works listed here, the Mendel Collection holds several newer editions of older Nahuatl texts, some first editions, and facsimiles. Among the more important historical works dealing with the history of the Aztecs both before and after the Conquest, the Lilly holds copies of the first printed editions of two major sixteenth-century works: Diego Durán, Historia de las indias de Nueva España, 2 vols. Mexico: 1867-1880; and Bernardino de Sahagún, Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, 3 vols. Mexico: 1829-1830. The Lilly Library also has a copy with colored plates of the mammoth nine volume Antiquities of Mexico edited by Lord Edward King Kingsborough. London: 1831-1848.

From the earliest days of printing in Mexico Nahuatl played an important rule. As noted earlier, the first book known to have been published in the New World was in Nahuatl. As printing evolved in Mexico, Nahuatl continued to be the most important Indian language. While the proportion of Nahuatl imprints within the entire production of Mexico decreased, the absolute number remained constant through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and then increased through the eighteenth century.

The group of Nahuatl imprints held by the Lilly Library in the Mendel Collection is of particular historical significance. It represents the major works written in the language and the gamut of possible genres. While the Lilly's holdings are by no means complete, they do faithfully reflect the production of works in Nahuatl from 1539 to 1840.

John Frederick Schwaller is a graduate student in the Department of History, Indiana University, Bloomington.

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