How indigenous masons learned to create vaults, 1615

English Translation
The Indians perfected their crafts, which they knew before [the Conquest], after they saw the works made by the Spanish. The masons, who were diligent in sculpture (as was said) and worked the stone without iron tools, using only stone ones, made interesting works. After they had picks and hammers and other iron tools and saw the works that we made, they quickly improved their skill, and thus now carve arches smaller than semicircles and tripartite arches, and facades and heavily worked windows. Of the many carved works that were seen, they were the ones to make them all. When works that the Spanish made passed through their hands, and it is extraordinary that there are some of these, he who handled them grew ever more skilled. In this city, the masons have made many works, and of good quality masonry. The work of this Church of Santiago, which is one of the best in the kingdom [of New Spain] and as good as many in Spain, was made by the Indians, without any greater ingenuity or teacher than me, who was the one to draw up the design, and the Indians carried it out themselves, doing both the rough and finished masonry. But they had little success in making vaults, although they admired them when they first saw them. When they constructed their first vault (which was in the main chapel of the Old Church of Saint Francis here in Mexico, created by a Castilian mason), the Indians marveled greatly at such a vault, and could not believe that once the scaffolding was taken down that it would not collapse, so that not one of them dared walk under it. When they saw that the vault did not budge, they lost their fear. And soon afterwards, the Indians alone made two vaulted chapels, which survive today in the patio of the principal church of Tlaxcala...    

Spanish Original
En los Oficios, que antes sabian, se perficionaron los Indios, despues que vieron las Obras, que hacian los Españoles; los Canteros, que eran curiosos en la Escultura (como queda dicho) y labraban sin Hierro, con solas Piedras, cosas mui de vèr, despues que tuvieron Picos, y Escodas, y los demás instrumentos de Hierro, y vieron Obras, que los nuestros hacian, se aventajaron en gran manera, y asi hacen, y labran Arcos redondos escarçanos, y terciados, y Portadas, y Ventanas de mucha Obra, y quantas cosas de Cantaria han visto, y ellos son los que lo labran todo, y por sus manos pasan los Obras, que los Españoles hacen, que por maravilla ai alguno de ellos, que ponga mano en esto, por mas oficial que sea; y en esta Ciudad han hecho mucha, y mui buena Canteria, y la Obra de esta Iglesia de Santiago, que es una de los mejores de el Reino, y de las buenas de España, la han trabajado los Indios, sin mas industria, ni Maestro, que Yo, que he sido el que la he traçado, y ellos puestolo en execucion con sus manos, asi en la Mampostreria, como en la Canteria. Lo que ellos no avian alcançado, y tuvieron en mucho cuando lo vieron, fue hacer Bobedas, y quando se hiço la primera (que fue la Capilla Maior de la Iglesia Vieja de San Francisco de esta Ciudad de Mexico, por mano de un Cantero de Castilla) maravillaronle mucho los Indios, en vèr cosa de Bobeda, y no podian creer, sino que al quitar de los Andamios, se avia de caer, y niguno asaba andar por abaxo, mas viendo que quedaba firme la Bobeda, luego perdieron el miedo. Y poco despues, los Indios solos hicieron dos Capillas de Bobeda, que todavia duran en el Patio de la Iglesia principal de Tlaxcalla...    








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