Friday, March 23, 2007

The Pre-Columbian Lacquer of West Mexico

The Pre-Columbian Lacquer of West Mexico
by Celia Heil
Evidence of Lacquer Technology Diffusion

Lacquer, known in Mexico as Maque, in China as Ch'í-Ch'í and in Japan as Urushi, was a technology well-known in Michoacán, on the west coast of Mexico, at the time of the Spanish invasion. The process of lacquering was practiced for several centuries by pre-Columbian Amerindians in what today are the States of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Michoacán, and perhaps as far north as Sinaloa. The pre-Columbian Maque technology is mentioned in the Mendocino Codex, by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in his Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, [General History of the Matters of New Spain] and also by Fray Mendieta in his Crónicas de Nueva España [Chronicles of New Spain].

China is regarded as the original home of lacquer. The Chinese recognized the protective qualities of the sap at least three thousand years ago (Casals, 1961:7). From China it was introduced to Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and India, (Abrams 1984:19; Garner, 1969:16), and it seems, also to west Mexico. The earliest known example of Chinese lacquer dates from the Shang Dynasty, ca. 1523-1028 BC, when the middle kingdoms of China began using lacquer on household utensils, furniture, art objects, and to preserve historic records carved on bones and bamboo (Abrams, 1984:20).

The oldest fragments of lacquered objects found in Japan so far, occur before the Jomon period, ca. 6th to 3rd centuries B.C. Archaeological excavations have produced artifacts and fragments of lacquered objects dating from the Yayoi period ca. 250 BC-250 AD (von Ragué, 1967:4-5). In Japan lacquer producing trees became as important as the Mulberry for silkworms and paper making, and tea producing plants (Hayashi, 1983:360). Formal lacquer production in Japan can be defined to occur during the Kofun period, ca. 3th to 6th century (von Ragué, 1967:5; Casals, 1961:8). With the introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century lacquer became the medium to religious decoration.

Uruapan in Michoacán is considered the cradle of maque together with other centers in Chiapas and Guerrero. Maque art flourished there long before European contact. How did the Michoacán people come to know this art? Did they develop it? Was it introduced from Asia? If so, when and how? Maque in Michoacán probably dates from between the 8th and 12th centuries, when a wave of cultural innovations appeared in Michoacán, along with metallurgy and a new ceramic style.

Perhaps it was introduced earlier by the Buddhist monk, Hui Sheng, who in 458 A.D. led a group of monks from the kingdom of Jibin, today called Cachemira, on a voyage to the land of Fusang or Fusangguo, as recorded in the Chinese encyclopedia and other historical documents. Fusang is the Japanese word for a tree and describes the saguaro cactus plant native to Mexico, and guo means "country" or "land." Hui Shen returned to China 41 years later, in 499, and reported his findings to the Xiao kingdom of the Qi state. It was recorded as his personal testimony during the Liang dynasty between 520 and 528 (Vargas, 1990:13-14).

In 1920, the Secretary of the Chinese Legation in Mexico and the artist Gerardo Murillo, better known as Dr. Atl, were convinced that about the year 600 AD, the Chinese reached the west coast of Mexico to where now are the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Jalisco, and Nayarit. Dr. Atl published an article titled "The Chinese were the discoverers of our nation" in the newspaper Excelsior, on May 22, 1921. He speculated that merchants introduced the lacquer technology (de Paul León, 1922:56; Zuno,1952:145).

There is a story in Nayarit of a pre-Columbian Asian ship that arrived on their coast and was cordially received by the chief of the Coras. Archaeology in Nayarit has produced artistic tripod ceramic funerary urns in tombs known as tumbas de Tiro y cámara (shaft and chamber tombs); dated ca. 1000 to 200 BC.

The culture known as Ancient Coras (400-900 AD) practiced terraced agriculture, and between 900 to 1200 metallurgy was introduced (Encyclopedia de Mexico, Vol.9:671-672). Indeed, a multitude of evidence indicates that a vast network of Pacific rim merchants traded along the coast of the American continent from Peru to Alaska (Murra, 1991). (Fig.1,2)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuba - a drink from the Philippines

This tradition originated in the Philippines and was handed down through the generations. It then arrived in Mexico by means of the Manila Galleon.

When the Manila galleon arrived on the Colima coast in the 16th century in search of lime that was so necessary to prevent scurvy among its passengers, it disembarked groups of Philippine workers, who came to grow sugar cane and rice in the fields of the region.

The exchange of customs between both countries that had both been taken over by Spain soon bore fruit. Chocolate, tamales, tortillas pozole (a thick, pork based broth) were sent from Mexico and from the Philippines came, among other things, shawls and the tuba. This term comes from the Philippine and means a nutritious, refreshing drink which is an extract of the coconut palm flower.
By: Guadalupe Silva
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Sixteenth Century Indigenous Jalisco

Sixteenth Century Indigenous Jalisco
by John P. Schmal © 2001
The modern state of Jalisco consists of 31,152 square miles (80,684 square kilometers) located in the west central portion of the Mexican Republic. However, the Jalisco of colonial Mexico was not an individual political entity but part of the Spanish province of Nueva Galicia, which embraced some 180,000 kilometers ranging from the Pacific Ocean to the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental.

Besides the present-day state of Jalisco, Nueva Galicia also included the states of Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Nayarit, and the northwest corner of San Luis Potosí. Across this broad range of territory, a wide array of indigenous groups lived before 1522 (the first year of contact with Spanish explorers). Domingo Lázaro de Arregui, in his "Descripción de la Nueva Galicia" - published in 1621 - wrote that 72 languages were spoken in the Spanish colonial province of Nueva Galicia.

As the Spaniards and their Indian allies from the south made their way into Nueva Galicia early in the Sixteenth Century, they encountered large numbers of nomadic Chichimeca Indians. Philip Wayne Powell - whose Soldiers, Indians, and Silver: North America's First Frontier War is the definitive source of information relating to the Chichimeca Indians - referred to Chichimeca as "an all-inclusive epithet" that had "a spiteful connotation." The Spaniards borrowed this designation from their Aztec allies and started to refer to the large stretch Chichimeca territory as La Gran Chichimeca.

Afredo Moreno González, in his recent book Santa Maria de Los Lagos, explains that the word Chichimeca has been subject to various interpretations over the years. Some of these suggestions included "linaje de perros" (of dog lineage), "perros altaneros" (arrogant dogs), or "chupadores de sangre" (blood-suckers). In any case, it was apparent that the Mexican Indians of the south did not hold their northern counterparts in high regard. However, in time, they learned to both fear and respect many of these Indians as brave and courageous defenders of their ancestral homelands.

Unfortunately, the widespread displacement that took place starting in 1529 prevents us from obtaining a clear picture of the indigenous Jalisco that existed in pre-Hispanic times. Four primary factors influenced the post-contact indigenous distribution of Jalisco and its evolution into a Spanish colonial province. The first factor was the 1529-30 campaign of Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán. In The North Frontier of New Spain, Peter Gerhard wrote that "Guzmán, with a large force of Spaniards, Mexican allies, and Tarascan slaves, went through here in a rapid and brutal campaign lasting from February to June 1530… Guzmán's strategy was to terrorize the natives with often unprovoked killing, torture, and enslavement."

Once Guzmán had consolidated his conquests, he ordered all of the conquered Indians of Jalisco to be distributed among Spanish encomiendas. The individual receiving the encomienda, known as the encomendero, received free labor and tribute from the Indians, in return for which the subjects were commended to the encomendero's care. As might be expected, such institutions were prone to misuse and, as a result, many Indians were reduced to slave labor and - all too often - death. Although Guzmán was arrested and imprisoned in 1536, his reign of terror had set into motion institutions that led to the widespread displacement of the indigenous people of Jalisco.

The second factor was the Mixtón Rebellion of 1541-1542. This indigenous uprising was a desperate attempt by the Cazcanes Indians to drive the Spaniards out of Nueva Galicia. In response to the desperate situation, Viceroy Mendoza assembled a force of 450 Spaniards and some 30,000 Aztec and Tlaxcalan supporting troops. In a series of short sieges and assaults, Mendoza gradually suffocated the uprising. The aftermath of this defeat, according to Peter Gerhard, led to thousands of deaths. In addition, he writes, "thousands were driven off in chains to the mines, and many of the survivors (mostly women and children) were transported from their homelands to work on Spanish farms and haciendas."

The third factor influencing Jalisco's evolution was the complex set of relationships that the Spaniards enjoyed with their Indian allies. As the frontier moved outward from the center, the military would seek to form alliances with friendly Indian groups. Then, in 1550, the Chichimeca War had began. This guerrilla war, which continued until the last decade of the century, was primarily fought by Chichimeca Indians defending their lands in Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, and northern Jalisco.

The Chichimeca conflict forced the Spaniards to rely heavily upon their Indian allies. The result of this dependence upon indigenous allies as soldados (soldiers) and pobladores (settlers) led to enormous and wide-ranging migration and resettlement patterns that would transform the geographic nature of the indigenous peoples of Nueva Galicia. In describing this phenomenon, Mr. Powell noted that the "Indians formed the bulk of the fighting forces against the Chichimeca warriors… As fighters, as burden bearers, as interpreters, as scouts, as emissaries, the pacified natives of New Spain played significant and often indispensable roles in subjugating and civilizing the Chichimeca country."

By the middle of the Sixteenth Century, the Tarascans, Aztecs, Cholultecans, Otomíes, Tlaxcalans, and the Cazcanes had all joined forces with the Spanish military. By the time the Chichimeca War had begun, the Tarascans and Otomíes, in particular, had already developed "considerable experience in warfare alongside the Spaniards." As a result, explains Mr. Powell, "they were the first important auxiliaries employed for entradas against the Chichimecas."

The employment of Tarascans, Mexicans, and Tlaxcalans for the purpose of "defensive colonization" also encouraged a gradual assimilation of the Chichimecas. In the 1590s Náhuatl-speaking colonists from Tlaxcala and the Valley of Mexico settled in some parts of Jalisco to serve, as Mr. Gerhard writes, "as a frontier militia and a civilizing influence." As the Indians of Jalisco made peace and settled down to work for Spanish employers, they were absorbed into the more dominant Indian groups that had come from the south. By the early Seventeenth Century, writes Mr. Powell, most of the Chichimeca Indians had disappeared as distinguishable cultural entities.

The fourth cause of depopulation and displacement of the Jalisco Indians was contagious disease. The physical isolation of the Indians in the Americas is the primary reason for which disease caused such havoc with the Native American populations. This physical isolation resulted in a natural quarantine from the rest of the planet and from a wide assortment of communicable diseases. When smallpox first ravaged through Mexico in 1520, no Indian had immunity to the disease.

During the first century of the conquest, the Mexican Indians suffered through 19 major epidemics. They were exposed to smallpox, chicken pox, diphtheria, influenza, scarlet fever, measles, typhoid, mumps, influenza, and cocoliztli (a hemorrhagic disease). Peter Gerhard has estimated the total native population of Nueva Galicia in 1520 at 855,000 persons. However, in the next two decades, the populous coastal region north of Banderas Bay witnessed the greatest population decline. "The unusually brutal conquest," writes Mr. Gerhard, "was swiftly followed by famine, further violence and dislocation, and epidemic disease."

By the late 1530s, the population of the Pacific coastal plain and foothills from Acaponeta to Puficación had declined by more than half. Subsequently, Indians from the highland areas were transported to work in the cacao plantations. When their numbers declined, the Spaniards turned to African slaves. By 1560, Mr. Gerhard wrote, the 320,000 indigenous people who occupied the entire tierra caliente in 1520 had dropped to a mere 20,000. A plague in 1545-1548 is believed to have killed off more than half of the surviving Indians of the highland regions. By 1550, it is believed that there were an estimated 220,000 Indians in all of Nueva Galicia.

The diversity of Jalisco's early indigenous population can be understood more clearly by exploring individual tribes or regions of the state. The following paragraphs are designed to provide the reader with some basic knowledge of several of the indigenous groups of Jalisco:

The Cazcanes. The Cazcanes (Caxcanes) lived in the northern section of the state. They were a partly nomadic people, whose principal religious and population centers were at Teul, Tlaltenango, Juchipila, and Teocaltiche. According to Mr. Powell, they were "the heart and the center of the Indian rebellion in 1541 and 1542." After the Mixtón Rebellion, the Cazcanes became allies of the Spaniards. For this reason, they suffered attacks by the Zacatecas and Guachichiles during the Chichimeca War.

Cocas. When the Spaniards first entered this area, the Coca Indians, guided by their leader Tzitlali, moved away to a small valley surrounded by high mountains, a place they named "Cocolan." Because the Cocas were peaceful people, the Spaniards, for the most part, left them alone. José Ramírez Flores, the author of Lenguas Indígenas de Jalisco, lists Cuyutlán, San Marcos, Tlajomulco, Toluquilla and Poncitlán as towns in which the Coca language was spoken.

Cuytecos. The Cuyutecos Indians, inhabiting the west central region around Atenquillo, Mascota, Talpa, Tecolotlán and Mixtlán, spoke a Nahua language. It is believed the Cuyuteco language may have been a late introduction into Jalisco.

Guachichiles. The Guachichiles, of all the Chichimeca Indians, occupied the most extensive territory. Considered both warlike and brave, the Guachichiles roamed through a large section of the present-day state of Zacatecas. The name of " Guachichile " that the Mexicans gave them meant "heads painted of red," a reference to the red dye that they used to pain their bodies, faces and hair. Although the main home of the Guachichile Indians lay in Zacatecas, they had a small representation in the Los Altos area of Jalisco. Their language was spoken at Tepatitlán and Arandas.

Huichol. The Huichol Indians of northwestern Jalisco and Nayarit lived in very isolated regions. This isolation has served them well for their aboriginal culture has survived with relatively few major modifications since the period of first contact with Western culture.

Even today, the Huichol Indians of Jalisco and Nayarit currently inhabit an isolated region of the Sierra Madre Occidental. Their language was spoken in the northern stretches of the Three-Fingers Region of Northern Jalisco, in particular Huejuquilla, Tuxpan and Colotlán.

Otomíes. The Otomíes were a Chichimeca nation primarily occupying Queretaro and Jilotepec. However, early on, the Otomíes allied themselves with the Spaniards and Mexica Indians. As a result, writes Mr. Powell, Otomí settlers were "issued a grant of privileges" and were "supplied with tools for breaking land." For their allegiance, they were exempted from tribute and given a certain amount of autonomy in their towns. During the 1550s, Luis de Velasco (the second Viceroy of Nueva España) used Otomí militia against the Chichimecas. The strategic placement of Otomí settlements in Nueva Galicia made their language dominant near Zapotitlán, Juchitlán, Autlán, and other towns near Jalisco's southern border with Colima.

Tecuexes. The Tecuexe Indians inhabited the Los Altos region around Jalostotitlan, Tepatitilan, Yahualica, Juchitlán, and Tonalán.

Tepehuanes. The Tepehuanes Indians are usually associated with Durango and with their massive revolt from 1616 to 1619. However, the Tepehuanes language was associated with several towns in the "Three-Fingers" region of northern Jalisco, most notably Tepec and Chimaltitlán.

The indigenous nations of Sixteenth Century Jalisco experienced such enormous upheaval in the space of mere decades that it has been difficult for historians to reconstruct the original homes of some native groups. Peter Gerhard, in The Northern Frontier of New Spain, has done a spectacular job of exploring the specific history of each colonial jurisdiction. Anyone who studies Mr. Gerhard's work comes to realize that each jurisdiction, and each community within each jurisdiction, has experienced a unique set of circumstances that set it apart from all other jurisdictions. A brief discussion of some of the individual districts of Jalisco follows:

Tequila (North central Jalisco). The indigenous name for this community is believed to have been Tecuallan (which, over time, evolved to its present form). The inhabitants of this area were Tecuexe farmers, most of who lived in the Barranca. North of the Río Grande were the Huicholes, who were the traditional enemies of the Tecuexes. Although Guzmán and his forces passed through this area in 1530, the natives of this area offered stiff resistance to Spanish incursions into their lands. The Huicholes north of the Río Grande raided the Tecuexes settlements in the south before 1550. According to Gerhard, "the Indians [of this jurisdiction] remained hostile and uncontrolled until after the Chichimec war when an Augustinian friar began their conversion."

Lagos de Moreno (Northeastern Los Altos). The author Alfredo Moreno González tells us that the Native American village occupying this area was Pechititán. According to Mr. Gerhard, "most if not all of the region was occupied at contact by Chichimec hunters-gatherers, probably Guachichiles, with a sprinkling of Guamares in the east." It is also believed that Tecuexes occupied the region southwest of Lagos. When Pedro Almíndez Chirinos traveled through here in March 1530 with a force of fifty Spaniards and 500 Tarascan and Tlaxcalan allies, the inhabitants gave him a peaceful reception.

Jalostotitlán (Northern Los Altos). This town was called a parish of Tecuexes.

San Juan de Los Lagos and Encarnación de Díaz (Northern Los Altos). The indigenous people of these districts were called "Chichimecas blancos" because of the limestone pigments they used to color their bodies and faces. The indigenous name for San Juan was Mezquititlán.

La Barca (East central Jalisco). La Barca and the shores of Lake Chapala were the sites of three indigenous nations: Poncitlán and Cuitzeo - which ran along the shores of Lake Chapala - and Coinan, north of the lake. The people of these three chiefdoms spoke Coca. Guzman's forces traveled through here in 1530, laying waste to much of the region. By 1585, both Coca and Náhuatl were spoken at Ocotlán, although Gerhard tells us that the latter "was a recent introduction."

Tlaxmulco (Central Jalisco). Before the contact, the Tarascans held this area. However, they were later driven out by a tribe from Tonalán. At the time of contact, there were two communities of Coca speakers: Tlaxmulco and Coyotlan. The natives here submitted to Guzmán and were enlisted to fight with his army in the conquest of the west coast. After the Mixtón Rebellion, Cazcanes migrated to this area.

Tonalá / Tonallan (Central Jalisco). At contact, the region east of here had a female ruler. Although the ruling class in this region was Coca speakers, the majority of the inhabitants were Tecuexes. Coca was the language at Tlaquepaque, while Tzalatitlan was a Tecuexe community. In March 1530, Nuño de Guzmán arrived in Tonalán and defeated the Tecuexes in battle.

San Cristóbal de la Barranca (North central Jalisco). Several native states existed in this area, most notably Atlemaxaque, Tequixixtlan, Cuauhtlan, Ichcatlan, Quilitlan, and Epatlan. By 1550, some of the communities were under Spanish control, while the "Tezoles" (possibly a Huichol group) remained "unconquered." Nine pueblos in this area around that time boasted a total population of 5,594. After the typhus epidemic of 1580, only 1,440 Indians survived. The migration of Tecuexes into this area led historians to classify Tecuexe as the dominant language of the area.

Colotlán (Northern Jalisco). Colotlán can be found in Jalisco's northerly "Three-Fingers" boundary area with Zacatecas. This heavily wooded section of the Sierra Madre Occidental remained beyond Spanish control until after the end of the Chichimeca War. It is believed that Indians of Cazcan and Tepecanos origin lived in this area. However, this zone became "a refuge for numerous groups fleeing from the Spaniards." Tepehuanes Indians - close relatives to the Tepecanos - are believed to have migrated here following their rebellion in Durango in 1617-1618.

Cuquío (North central Jalisco). When the European explorers reached Cuquío in north central Jalisco they described it as a densely populated region of farmers. The dominant indigenous language in this region was Tecuexe. Guzmán's lieutenant, Almíndez Chirinos, ravaged this area in February 1530, and in 1540-41, the Indians in this area were among the insurgents taking part in the Mixtón Rebellion.

Tepatitlán (Los Altos, Eastern Jalisco). Tecuexes inhabited this area of stepped plateaus descending from a range of mountains, just east of Guadalajara. In the south, the people spoke Coca. This area was invaded by Guzmán and in 1541 submitted to Viceroy Mendoza.

Guadalajara. When the Spanish arrived in the vicinity of present-day Guadalajara in 1530, they found about one thousand dispersed farmers belonging to the Tecuexes and Cocas. But after the Mixtón Rebellion of the early 1540s, whole communities of Cazcanes were moved south to the plains near Guadalajara.

Purificación (Westernmost part of Jalisco). The rugged terrain of this large colonial jurisdiction is believed to have been inhabited by primitive farmers, hunters, and fisherman who occupied some fifty autonomous communities. Both disease and war ravaged this area, which came under Spanish control by about 1560.

Tepec and Chimaltitlán (Northern Jalisco). The region surrounding Tepec and Chimaltitlán remained a stronghold of indigenous defiance. Sometime around 1550, Gerhard writes that the Indians in this area were described as "uncontrollable and savage." The indigenous inhabitants drove out Spanish miners working the silver deposits around the same time. A wide range of languages was spoken in this area: Tepehuán at Chimaltitlán and Tepic, Huichol in Tuxpan and Santa Catarina, and Cazcan to the east (near the border with Zacatecas).

Copyright © 2001 by John P. Schmal. All Rights under applicable law are hereby reserved. Material from this article may be reproduced for educational purposes and personal, non-commerical home use only. Reproduction of this article for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without the express permission of John P. Schmal.

José Ramírez Flores, Lenguas Indígenas de Jalisco. Guadalajara: Unidad Editorial, 1980. Peter Gerhard, The North Frontier of New Spain. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982.
Afredo Moreno González, Santa Maria de Los Lagos. Lagos de Moreno: D.R.H. Ayuntamiento de Los Lagos de Moreno, 1999.
José Antonio Gutiérrez Gutiérrez, Los Altos de Jalisco: Panorama histórico de una region y de su sociedad hasta 1821. Mexico: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1991.
Donna S. Morales and John P. Schmal, My Family Through Time: The Story of a Mexican-American Family. Los Angeles, California, 2000.
José María Muriá, Breve Historia de Jalisco. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1994.
Philip Wayne Powell, Soldiers Indians and Silver: North America's First Frontier War. Tempe, Arizona: Center for Latin American Studies, Arizona State University, 1975.

Costalegre y Colima en la Época Colonial

Shortly after the fall of Tenochtitlan, Mexico, D.F., on August 13, 1521, the Spanish conquistadores continued their explorations crossing valleys, mountains and oceans.

By 1525, Garcia de Loaiza had already crossed the Pacific Ocean. However the first Spanish ship that passed by the central Mexican coast in 1527 visited the beautiful bay of Zacatula, Michoacan. That was the brig "Spirit Santo", of the group of three boats ordered by Hernán Cortez and commanded by Alvaro de Saavedra Cerón, cousin of Don Hernando.

Eventually the Spanish ventured up the Costalegre as far as Chamela, which also made for an ideal shelter for their ships, and founded numerous ports between there and Manzanillo.

1564 - All the zone between ports of Navidad and Salagua (Manzanillo) (In line for supply routes to; Autlán, Ameca, Zapotlán, Amula, Tuspa, Tamazula, Guadalajara, Towns of Avalos, etc.) existed from the activities connected with the construction of ships for the trip to the Philippines. On November 21st, 1564, Miguel Lopez Legazpi, with the title of "Adelantado," along with the friar Andrés de Urdaneta, sailed from Puerto de Navidad to colonize an archipelago in the Far East. Legazpi named the archipelago FILIPINAS in honor of Felipe II, then king of Spain. In 1571 he founded Manila as its capital.

A viceroy named it Puerto de Navidad (Port of Christmas), because the Spanish explorers landed on Christmas Day. Since the town he built was on a sandbar, the name was later changed to “Bar of Christmas.” The Spanish conquistadors took advantage of the natural port of Barra de Navidad making it one of the major ship building and repair ports.

Costalegre y Colima en la Época Prehispánica

The Colima Dog
The name of these curious dogs is "Choloesquincles", it means in Nahualt "perro pequeño" and little dog in English. The function of the dogs is to accompany the dead people to the heaven. That's why there always are dogs in the graves.

The oldest settlers on record were the Otomíes, that settled on the coasts of the Mexican Pacific, by years 250 to 750 a.d..

There were in addition other small tribes who lived in this region, but did not develop because stronger and numerous Nahua groups arrived from the direction of the center of Mexico.

Between years 900 to 1154 the Toltecas groups, who were the origin of the Nahua, bloomed by imposed their culture on the more primitive communities.

Finally the Chichimecas arrived, during the period from 1154 to 1428, leaving numerous signs of their life and customs.

Many years before the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, this region was populated by Otomíes indigenous groups, Mexican Toltecas, Aztecs, of the types; Chichimecas, Popolocas, Tecos, Cocaines, Tecuejes, et cetera.

The work that the settlers of this region dedicated themselves, was mainly agriculture, fishing, harvesting of salt and mining. The main metal used was copper, with which they made adornments and utensils. The use of gold and silver seems to have been developed previous to copper.

They built their houses of sticks with palapa ceilings establishing the construction technique still in use: bajarete or pajarete, that consists of constructing walls of twigs or woven rattans and covered with mud. They were also skilled at; pajarete wood embroidery, palapa weaving, driftwood sculpturing and beach pebble and seashell flooring.

The dominant language was Nahuatl but with many variants and modifications.

It is seen from the lack of huge buildings and monuments, that the inhabitants of the region were not great engineers nor constructors. But however they were extraordinary potters and ceramists which is shown through the million archaeological pieces representing aspects of life, political customs, their ideas, their dreams, and their fantasies.

In the pre-Columbian pottery we can find men working, shippers raising heavy bundles, hunting, important soldiers with distinguished uniforms, sportsmen like runners and fighters, judges, women performing domestic tasks or pregnant women, musicians, and an animal infinity, fruits, plants and others. All made with skillful techniques that surprise by their reality and beauty.

The most important towns of the pre-Hispanic time in southern Jalisco and Colima were Tzalahua - present Salagua, Moyutla - Colomo, Totolmaloya - present Santiago, Chiametla, Camotlán, Malaoaztla - today Marabasco, Aguatán - Barra de Navidad, Cihuatlán, Gualataca - today Cualata, Cacalutla - disappeared, among others.

Copied and translated from Manzanillo's Historical Archives page
Archivo Histórico de Manzanillo