Sunday, February 24, 2019

Oaxaca. Treasures of Yautepec 3: the Organ, the Music and the Codex

In 2001 staff of the Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca (IOHIO), led by Cicely Winter, visited San Bartolo Yautepec to document the imposing pipe organ housed in the choir loft of the community church.
picture courtesy of IOHIO
Similar in style and probably contemporary with the organ at San Baltazar Yatzachi, the organ dates from around 1800. Its handsome cedar case is embellished with ornamental rococo fretwork and the instrument retains its keyboard and most of its pipes, along with the original bellows—seemingly a good candidate for future restoration.
In the course of the IOHIO investigation, two locked wooden chests were also discovered in the choir loft. When opened they were found to contain religious books and manuscripts dating from the 17th and early 18th century, as well as religious and popular band music from the 19th and early 20th century.
The oldest books and scores appear to have been brought from the Dominican seminary in nearby Santo Domingo Nejapa by the seminarian and later maestro de capilla, Domingo Flores, a native of San Bartolo.
Not only that, but investigators found that one of the books was backed with two sections of a pre-hispanic or early colonial codex painted on deerskin—the first to be discovered in this area of Mexico. 
   Recently reported research* indicates that the faded glyphs on the codex, although in a previously unknown style, seem to be part of a sacred ritual calendar or divinatory almanac.
text © 2019 Richard D. Perry
images from IOHIO and online sources
*see Archeology Magazine Sept/Oct 2018
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