History
This is the last will and testament of an indigenous leader, don Juan Duchisela. It was set down on paper in 1605 by an indigenous notary in the northern Andes, near the town of Riobamba in the viceroyalty of Perú (modern–day Ecuador). Don Juan was the patriarch of an indigenous cacicazgo (an indigenous community). This community, Yaruquíes, had weathered many decades of ravaging epidemic disease. Although he was only 35 years old, don Juan had just lost his third wife. In this will, he leaves his cacicazco to his son from this last marriage. The passages excerpted below detail goods and property that he had already given during his lifetime to his oldest son don Gaspar Duchisela, a son from his first marriage, probably to forestall any claims on his estate after his death. As the excerpt suggests, the extent of don Juan's property was considerable.
Visual Culture
This will makes it clear that by the early 17th century, indigenous nobles were both familiar with, and proud possessors of objects of European origin, like spinning wheels, saddles and bridles. Like many indigenous wills from Spanish America, don Juan's testament makes no comment upon the heterogeneous origins of those possessions he leaves to his heirs. Perhaps the cultural mixing of his world was so commonplace that it warranted no remark, or perhaps wills were documents of a standardized form they left little room for personal reflection. This partial list of his possessions does, however, suggest how an Andean leader parsed and categorized his daily world, from measured pieces of land, nails and doors, to chairs and riding gear.






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