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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. The Words and the Indigenous Past of the Game of Ulama Ricardo Garcia Also, to me alone, a short time ago they said, those who were at the ball court, they said, they murmured: Is it possible to work mercifully?

Arte de la lengua cahita

Is it possible to act prudently? I know only myself. Everyone says this but no one speaks truly. Cacamatzin was an Cxhita noble, and like most nobles, he probably played Ullamaliztli, 2 the Aztec hip ballgame.

He spoke Nahuatl, 3 the lingua franca 4 of the Aztec Empire, and he wrote a poem about what he heard in the ball courts of the Empire. Today, ldngua in some farming communities in the Mexican state of Sinaloa hear similar sounds because they play Ulama, 5 which is also a hip ballgame. Ulama utilizes both Nahuatl and Spanish terms.

Both terms Ullamaliztli and Ulama lrngua derived from words that were present in the Aztec Empire. Furthermore, the indigenous Cahita, Pima, and Tepehuan have lived in and around Sinaloa for over years. These indigenous groups do not currently play an Ulama-like game, but their languages have some terms that suggest the presence of a similar game in lengus past. University of Oklahoma Press, Cahit, this language is spoken by over a million and a half people.

Background The Aztec Lengau was a more complex entity than is generally understood. Ethnographic sources suggest that it began during the s in the Valley of Mexico, which was a basin surrounded by mountains that contained several interconnected lakes [See Figure 5. The Acolhua- Nahua who lived east of the lakes spoke the most prestigious dialect of Nahuatl, and their main city of Tetzcoco was considered the cultural heart of the Empire.

The Tepaneca-Nahua lived in the west and Tlacopan was czhita principal city, but they were in all respects the junior partner. These allies won one victory after another until they controlled most of Central Mexico, and as a byproduct, they solidified the position of Nahuatl as the lingua franca in this area.

However, the Tlaxcalla-Nahua was one major group that successfully resisted Aztec power. Then, ina small army of some foreign soldiers, fifty indigenous warriors, and 6 Michael D. From the Olmecs to the Aztecs London: Thames and Hudson, Early colonial records from the sixteenth century suggest the existence of five lakes.

During pre-Columbian times [Refer to Chapter 3], Ullamaliztli had been popular among the Nahua nobility who played and sponsored ballplayers who were commoners. This is a low estimate. Eric Taladoire includes the mariners in his count of the Europeans, and he writes that they had some warrios upon entering Veracruz, but an unknown number remained behind at the Spanish settlement of Veracruz. Taladoire and Hassig concur that almost one thousand Europeans began the attack on Lentua even while a sizeable contingent was at Veracruz.

Hassig also proposes that more than 99 percent of the forces during this final phase were indigenous. In its tempo, it probably resembled beach volleyball with quick kills punctuated by agte rallies. However, Ullamaliztli was a more dangerous game because the players could die if the heavy ball struck them cahkta the stomach or kengua the head. In the late 16th century, families of ballplayers who were commoners lived on borrowed bread, and asked alms of their neighbors because they could no longer live off of Ullamaliztli.


Many a time have I seen this game [of Ullamaliztli] played, and to find out why the elders still extol it [I asked them] to play it in the ancient way. But the most oengua [factor] was lacking, namely the enclosure where the contest took place, within which it was played, and the rings through which they cast and passed the ball.

Jesuit priests began establishing missions in northwestern Mexico ,aand they remained in the area until Since Jesuits wrote most of the records during this period, I have named this span the Jesuit Period — Written communication with Eric Taladoire on October 10, Editorial Porrua,p.

Editorial Porrua, University of Arizona Press Siglo Veintiuno Editores, Beals reported in the early 20th century that a ballgame was common in this town where the players used the right forearm to hit a rubber ball that was slightly smaller than that used for the hip ballgame; 37 and this game sounds like arm-Ulama. arre

I have referred to the next span of time that dates from to as the Pre-Modern Period, and it was characterized by the isolation of the northwest from the rest of Mexico. In fact, the best account comes from William A. Native languages of the Americas website, s.

Pennington, The Tepehuan of Chihuahua: University of Utah Press,68; Saxton, Today, three ballgames share the name of Ulama: Hip-ulama is the best documented game and it is the one that is most identical to the ballgames of the Post-Conquest, Jesuit, and Pre-Modern Periods.

Hip-ulama is played on a chalk drawn rectangular court that is about ft 65 m long by about 13 ft. Parker, Logbook and Journal: January —OctoberFebruary 18th,University of California: Melvyl CatalogSubject: January —OctoberFebruary 18th, Alfredo Chavero Mexico City: The Mesoamerican Ballgame ed. Michael Whittington Charlotte, NC: Each game began when one of the players served the ball by either rolling it on the ground or throwing it in the air.

Then, an opposing player hit the ball back with his hip, and the ball bounced across the center line where a player hit it back with his hip, and the action continued until the ball stopped or was hit out of bounds which resulted in a point and a new serve. Hip-ulama is very dangerous because some informants have seen people die when they were hit by the rubber ball in the stomach or on the head.

People have played the hip ballgame in a similar way since the destruction of the ball courts in the 16th century. The rubber ball has consistently remained the size of a human head or 47 Kelly, Brill, Kelly mentions a ball that weighed 3. I held a small ball that was a little over 6 lbs. The number of players in the court has changed, but all of the players have been required to hit the ball with their hips, which has a practical reason.

The hip-bone supports the upper body, and because of this it is one of the strongest bones in the body, and it is probably the only part of the body that can take the constant pounding of the heavy rubber ball.

Arte de la lengua cahita conforme à las reglas de muchos peritos en ella.

We did not practice for long, but whenever I hit the ball with my hip-bone it did not hurt, and when I hit it with my thigh it did. The size legua the ball has also remained constant because people in every time period since the Conquest have reported seeing the ball kill someone who was hit in the head or the abdomen. Ediciones Atlas, I specifically remember that Chuy Arreola mentioned this several times in September, Memoriales or Book of the Things of New Spain and Its People by Friar Toribio de Benavente Motolinia is notable because he gives the best description of the rules, and he explains that the ball courts were destroyed while he lived.


One of the first drafts has been published as the Primeros Memoriales. This and subsequent drafts were suppressed by the Inquisition in Mexico, 58 Alonso de Molina, 76, I by Fray Juan de Torquemada, p. Most of the literature about the ballgame during the Jesuit Period — was written by the highly educated Jesuits. Cabita, Completed and Revised by H. Francisco Javier Dr is another important Jesuit historian; his work was published in and it documents the continued presence of the ballgame in the north, and the presence of the words oli and olin in Central Mexico.

American naval officer, William A. Parker, some secular priests, and various Mexican scholars all wrote about the ballgame during the Pre-Modern Period — Parker is the most important source by far. Parker logbook and journal, January — October.

Beals published several works in the s and s about life in Northern Mexico during the 16th and 17th centuries. A Northern Tribe of Durango and Sinaloa. This work grew out of ethnographic research that Leyenaar conducted with his wife and some students during trips to Sinaloa in, and While there, they conducted an ethnographic study by interviewing many players and they witnessed a game between the towns of El Habal and El Chilillo.

He led several graduate students of Anthropology, Art History and Linguistics on several trips to towns in Sinaloa with the collaboration of Dr. I joined this group in the Summer of Between September 8 and September 13, I traveled as a member of the group to Sinaloa where we talked to current and former players of hip-ulama in 68 Kelly, During these interviews, informants eagerly discussed their role as players of the ballgame where they used most of the lenbua that are being analyzed in this study.

I talked to the other team members who described what happened in a previous visit and I looked over articles they had collected.

I also began to study the indigenous languages of Sinaloa. In Septemberwe traveled to communities in Southern Sinaloa where hip-ulama was played or had been played in al past fifty years.

Arte de la lengua cahita /, by Tomás Basilio et al. | The Online Books Page

We interviewed ballplayers and some of their family members about the customs and practices of Ulama. Sometimes I asked questions, other times I listened, recorded and wrote down Ulama terms, and non-Spanish words that were spoken by our informants.

I have based this research on the speech arfe four informants. Chuy Arreola was our ambassador, who introduced us to many people involved in this game.