The Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca was created in the Nahuatl-speaking community of Cuauhtinchan in the mid-16th century at the behest of an indigenous noble, don Alonso de CasteƱeda. It is a historical account of that town and its founders, reaching from the 12th century to the 16th century. Written using the Latin alphabet and bound in book form, it recasts a local version of pre-Hispanic history, probably one once preserved in both oral and pictographic form, by using materials and writing technologies introduced by Spaniards. The date 13 Flower in this excerpt indicates that memories of pre-Hispanic calendars were not easily lost, nor, as the dialogue in this passage makes clear, were traditions for recounting history through speech.
Visual Culture
This excerpt from a key moment in the historical narrative tells of the famed ancestral groups, the Chichimeca, that settled in Cuauhtinchan and nearby communities. Two priestly leaders, named Icxicoatl (Serpent Foot) and Quetzaltehueyac (Quetzal plume at the Lips), traveled from the city of Cholula--an important pre-Hispanic pilgrimage site--to a place far away, where the ancestral Chichimeca made their home.

This place of ancestral origins was called Colhuacatepec, and its sacred quality was signaled by its heat. Recounted in this passage are some of the ritual acts Icxicoatl and Quetzaltehueyac take in order to entice those within the sacred cave, the Chichimeca warriors, to emerge. Although the text does not describe the appearance of Colhuacatepec, it suggests its physical qualities and the need to approach the ancestral site through the gestures of prayer and worship. The painted image corresponding to this text, entitled "Chicomoztoc, Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca," in the Vistas gallery, shows both the ancestral warriors and the leaders from Cholula.

See a painting of Chicomoztoc in the Vistas Gallery.

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