NEW MEXICO POST­SCRIPT

Pasatiempo - - IN OTHER WORDS -

The Floren­tine Codex was writ­ten in Nahu­atl, trans­lated into Span­ish, and the two texts il­lus­trated with im­ages. Since the 16th cen­tury, there have been many projects to trans­late the texts into other lan­guages. Car­di­nal Francesco de’ Medici had a sec­tion of the Span­ish text trans­lated into Ital­ian al­most as soon as he ob­tained the man­u­script in the 1580s. While there were English trans­la­tions from de­fec­tive Span­ish ver­sions (i.e. not from a cor­rect copy of the Florence man­u­script) as early as that pub­lished by Lord Kings­bor­ough in the 1830s, the mod­ern history of Sa­hagún in English is linked to Santa Fe. In the in­tro­duc­tory vol­ume to Arthur J.O. An­der­son and Charles E. Dib­ble’s mon­u­men­tal English trans­la­tion of the Floren­tine Codex, pub­lished by the School of Amer­i­can Re­search and the Univer­sity of Utah (1950-1982), An­der­son re­lates that it had al­ways been Edgar Lee Hewett’s hope to per­suade Adolph Ban­de­lier to un­der­take an English trans­la­tion of the work. Hewett was the found­ing di­rec­tor of the School of Amer­i­can Ar­chae­ol­ogy (1907, later the School of Amer­i­can Re­search, and now the School for Ad­vanced Re­search) and of the Mu­seum of New Mexico (1909). And Ban­de­lier was a pi­o­neer of South­west­ern re­search, whose last years of ac­tiv­ity in our re­gion (he died in 1914) over­lapped with the first years of the School of Amer­i­can Ar­chae­ol­ogy. Ban­de­lier’s wife, Fanny, took up the Sa­hagún pro­ject, and in 1932, Fisk Univer­sity pub­lished her English ver­sion of the first four books of the Floren­tine Codex, A History of An­cient Mexico, 1547-1577. Although the work was a fine piece of schol­ar­ship and was well-re­ceived — in­clud­ing a pos­i­tive re­view in the

Amer­i­can An­thro­pol­o­gist by one of Hewett’s great en­e­mies, the Har­vard pro­fes­sor Al­fred M. Tozzer — for her trans­la­tion, Fanny Ban­de­lier used a faulty Span­ish ver­sion pub­lished in Mexico in the 1820s by Car­los M. Bus­ta­mante. For New Mexico’s cel­e­bra­tion of the Coron­ado Cuar­to­cen­te­nario (1940), Hewett con­vinced UNM history pro­fes­sor Lans­ing Bloom to de­vote part of his sab­bat­i­cal leave in 1938-1939 to hunt­ing manuscripts in Euro­pean li­braries. Among other doc­u­ments, Bloom suc­ceeded in ob­tain­ing the first mi­cro­film of the Floren­tine Codex. Back in Santa Fe, Bertha Dut­ton and Hulda Hobbs made 8 x 10 pho­to­graphic en­large­ments of each of the ap­prox­i­mately 2,500 neg­a­tives. Arthur A.O. An­der­son re­lates that he be­came aware of the trans­la­tion pro­ject in 1940, af­ter hear­ing the Santa Fe Mayanist Syl­vanus G. Mor­ley speak en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about the mi­cro­film. When Hewett died in 1946, Mor­ley suc­ceeded him as di­rec­tor of the School of Amer­i­can Re­search and the Mu­seum of New Mexico, and un­der Mor­ley’s lead­er­ship, the trans­la­tion be­gan. Mor­ley also ne­go­ti­ated the ad­di­tion to the team of Charles E. Dib­ble, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Utah. The troika of Mor­ley, An­der­son, and Dib­ble es­ti­mated that the trans­la­tion could be fin­ished in five years. In­stead the la­bor re­quired al­most 40 years, about the same pe­riod as Sa­hagún work on the orig­i­nal pro­ject, four cen­turies ago. The en­tire Floren­tine Codex can be viewed (and down­loaded) at www.codices.inah.gob.mx. Look for “Códice Florentino” un­der the In­ter­ac­tives sec­tion. The World Dig­i­tal Li­brary also has a con­ve­nient link to the online ver­sion at the Bi­b­lioteca Medicea Lau­ren­ziana in Florence.

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