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Yucatan before and after the conquest, Unknown Binding – 1937


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding: 162 pages
  • Publisher: The Maya Society; 2nd edition (1937)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00085LC7C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on August 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Yucatan Before and After the Conquest" is the English translation of the 1566 work "Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan," by Diego de Landa. Translator William Gates has also provided some illuminating notes to the text. De Landa was a clergyman who was instrumental in suppressing the indigenous Mayan culture of Yucatan. In his introduction, Gates notes ironically that de Landa "burned ninety-nine times as much knowledge of Maya history and sciences as he has given us in his book." Also ironically, de Landa wrote the book as a matter of self-justification after his forced return to Spain.
So de Landa's work must be read with a very critical eye. Still, this is a frequently fascinating account of Native American life at the time of the Spanish conquest. De Landa describes Indian architecture, clothing, culinary arts, and musical instruments. He also describes the bounteous plant and animal life of the region (particularly interesting is his account of the manatees). De Landa also describes the "Europeanization" of the younger Indian generation, and explains why he destroyed priceless native texts.
This edition contains some supplemental documents implicating de Landa as the "chief author" of many of the abuses heaped upon the Indians by their Spanish conquerors. This book is an important resource, but it is also a chilling record of cultural imperialism, religious chauvinism, and personal arrogance.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Romero on June 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
During the sixteenth century, the Franciscan friar Diego de Landa put into writing the Relacion de Las Cosas de Yucatan. This work is a translation of the manuscript from 1566 by the renowned scholar William Gates. The Dover edition was originally published as Publication Number 20 by the Maya Society, Baltimore, 1937. This was reportedly the first English translation of that text. Landa's relacion pieced together the culture and society of the Yucatec Maya as he saw the people, their practices and their region during his time. Although his work may be labeled as "Euro centric" by our standards, his writings are an early example of ethnographical accounts by a foreign observer. Diego de Landa has left scholars a view into the perceptions of a sixteenth century European clergyman as he encountered a foreign culture.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By James T. Heeney (jim@durkin.usa.com) on October 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
. . . in this 16th Century account by a dogmatic, strident Franciscan Friar who devoted much of his life to cementing the Spanish conquest by forcible proselytizing, and destroying Mayan religious texts and iconography. Outside of the handful of original Mayan codices that have survived, this work constitutes the single most important resource on ancient Mayan culture, which is ironic because Landa single-handedly eradicated much of the material which would have provided modern scholars important insight into the unique civilization. Landa's brief account presents an overview of Mayan social and religious customs, mythology, astrology, as well as his keen observations regarding the climate, flora and fauna of the Yucatan region. Readers more interested in the conquest itself rather than the Mayans will want to look elsewhere, but will find some useful information regarding Cortes and the responses of the indigenous tribes to contact with the conquistadores.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Berek on December 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
While driving on the lonely highway toward the city of Valladolid, in the center of Mexico's Yucutan peninsula, on the horizon loomed a surreal shadow. I tried to imagine what this platial structure could be. Upon arriving at the charming colonial city, I came upon a magnificent Spanish colonial monestary. What was amazing was that it was built upon the base of a pyramid razed by the Spanish conquistadores, who reused the stones for their building. Next to this remarkable ediface, one will find a statue erected in his memory, its plaque stating that it is a monument to the dangers of religious fervor and extremism. One cannot think of a more apt metaphor of the Spanish attempt to wipe out the indigenous Maya culture than this building. This remakable book chronicles the travels of Friar Diego de Landa and fellow conquistadores in their attempts to convert the Maya of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula to Catholicism. It reads like many of the Medieval first-hand accounts by the crusaders (e.g., Jean de Joinville) in that horrible details of destruction can be justified in the name of spreading the Gospel. The accounts of Bernal Diaz at Tenochtitlan are another parallel.

So why should I feel that such a book merits five stars? This book is a very important first-hand (though painful) accounts of colonial Mexican history and a witness to the destruction of an indigenous culture. It is ironic that this book is also a very important source of Maya customs, daily activity, and history. It's a veritable treasure trove of information (with very interesting illustrations) of the culture the Spanish conquistadores sought to erradicate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joshua L. Peterson on May 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
A must for anyone who is planning on visiting the Yucatan. I cant get enough information about the Mayan. This is a must read, great book. Best book about how the Maya people lived. This one is the first book anyone should read about the Yucatan.
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