The Relaciones Geográficas Map of Misquiahuala: Interpretation and Contextualization
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This study situates the Relaciones Geográficas map of Misquiahuala (RGM) in its historical, cultural, and aesthetic contexts. The RGM was painted by an indigenous artist in 1579 on a deerskin hide and is the product of Philip II of Spain’s attempt to survey New Spain. The map invites considerations of the impact that differing cultures had on the pictorial qualities of artistic production at this time. My study aims to explore the RGM’s contextual history, develop interpretations of its composition, imagery, and symbolism, and situate it within the broader social context of 16th century New Spain. The map of Misquiahuala, located in the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin, is an eloquent example of artistic production that exemplifies stylistic hybridity. It embodies the cultural convergence of the Spanish and indigenous Mesoamericans, and provides the opportunity to engage with questions of authorship, the visible tension of cross-cultural dialogues, artistic exchange, and hybridization.