Gender, ‘Earthly Names’ and the Life Course in Ancient Mexico.


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Table of Contents

Gender, ‘Earthly Names’ and the Life Course in Ancient Mexico.

Debate: Condition of Nahua Women

Nahua gender relations over the life course: assymetry, hierarchy, subordination

1. Gender and ‘earthly names’ among the ordinary (rural) Nahua at contact: “a linguistic thicket”

“Ordinary women…we don’t even know their names.”--Blanco, 1991 The Nahua Naming Ceremony

Naming Ceremony (Florentine Codex)

The Midwife Bathes the Newborn Babe

Earthly Names Ceremony differs for boys and girls

And as she washed it all over, its hands, its feet, she gave a talk to all...

The naming ceremony began at sunrise … and concluded with a banquet

From classic texts, elite names: few female names, fewer names of ordinary people

Source: The Book of Tributes by S.L. Cline (INAH, v. 549)

Museo de Antropología, Mexico City: “Here is the home of one...named…Cuilol”.

Cline on authenticity of censuses

A census recorded in glyphs (Santa Maria Asuncion, Harvey)

Names in a Tlatoani Family

4 most common names for each sex. What are the differences?

Common names 6th-10th most frequent by sex

Frequency of Common Female Names

PPT Slide

2. Marriage: early age, unequal condition

Early marriage in Nahuatl censuses

Inequality of marital condition: fewer never married females, more widowers, concubines, etc.

Female names are affected by marital status

Male names also vary by marital condition

3. The household: neither patri- or matri-lineal, but cognatic and women always subordinate

Inequality in the household: females are spouses, not heads fewer females as offspring

4. Widowhood is a female condition widowers quickly remarry; widows do not (cannot?)

5. Nahua life course: strictly gendered (Codex Mendoza, 1540)

Conclusions: earthly names of ordinary country-folk


Author: Department of History


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