Synopses & Reviews
“Justyna Olko provides nothing less than a rigorous and exhaustive analysis of every component of dress, jewelry, and other ornamentation worn by adorning indigenous men and women, be they native rulers (
tlatoque), members of the nobility (
principales), bureaucratic functionaries, or soldiers. This level of detail enables her to assign a cultural reference point for numerous figures—a reference point that includes indicators such as rank and social status and the specific identity of local aristocracies, or, in the cases of a dual identity, the one that is intended to stand out at a certain time or to grace a particular occasion. These aspects of native culture, as drawn out by Olko, have often been ignored or overlooked, precisely because the field has lacked a comprehensive study such as hers to consult . . . [W]ith this book, Justyna Olko has become an unqualified master of the tlacuilolli.”
—María Castañeda de la Paz
In this significant work, Olko reconstructs the repertory of insignia of rank and the contexts and symbolic meanings of their use, along with their original terminology, among the Nahuatl-speaking communities of Mesoamerica from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. In this interpretive study and handy reference, Olko engages with and builds upon extensive worldwide scholarship and skillfully illuminates this complex topic, creating a vital contribution to the fields of pre-Columbian and colonial Mexican studies. Insignia of Rank in the Nahua World substantially expands and elaborates the themes of Olko’s Turquoise Diadems and Staffs of Office: Elite Costume and Insignia of Power in Aztec and Early Colonial Mexico, originally published in Poland and never released in North America.
and#160;andquot;This is an important contribution to pre-Columbian and colonial Mexican studies. Staying remarkably focused throughout the book, the author thoroughly describes and insightfully interprets the insignia of rank of the Nahua (Aztec) peoples both before and after the Spanish conquest, placing these insignia in broad contexts. A crucial feature of the book is its use of an extraordinary variety of sources, revealing new patterns and variations (especially regional) in the use of status-related insignia and showing their persistence after the Spanish conquest. Beyond its interpretive value, this book is also a particularly useful reference work for related disciplines.andquot;
andmdash;Frances Berdan, California State University, San Bernardino, author ofand#160;The Aztecs of Central Mexico: An Imperial Society and coeditor of The Codex Mendoza
and#160;andquot;The definitive work for decades to come on this important topic, and a model of innovative research crossing traditional disciplinary and methodological boundaries. It unites the pre- and postconquest periods, imperial core and regional settings, pictorial and textual sources, and language and visual image.andquot;
andmdash;Rebecca Horn, University of Utah, author ofand#160;Postconquest Coyoacan
and#160;andquot;A unique, significant monument. The research is simply stupendous. An exceptional work.andquot;
andmdash;James Lockhart, University of California, Los Angeles, author ofand#160;The Nahuas after the Conquest
andquot;Olko has asked a large question, bringing to the forefront issues of status, prestige, and, probably, pedigree. The depth of her knowledge of early Nahua accoutrements and prerogatives across a broad spectrum of peoples is exceptional...Olko has written an erudite, meaningful work to ensure that the argot of the Nahua visual canon is carried forward.andquot;
andmdash;Susan Schroeder, Journal of Anthropological Research
andquot;[T]he definitive work on dress, jewelry, and all other accompanying symbols of rank in the late pre-Hispanic and early colonial Nahua eras. . . . Analyzing an exhaustive array of sources that moves beyond those used by earlier scholars working on themes of Nahua clothing and accoutrements of rank . . . Olko uses textual, pictorial, and material evidence, with a heavy emphasis on Nahuatl-language codices from all over the region studied, some of these being relatively unknown. Her assembling and analyzing of such a vast array of sources is impressive. . . . [Olkoand#39;s book] will serve as the standard work on items and imagery of rank and nobility for decades to come, and both the author and the University Press of Colorado deserve plaudits for its publication.andquot;
andmdash;Susan Kellogg,and#160;Hispanic American Historical Review
This significant work reconstructs the repertory of insignia of rank and the contexts and symbolic meanings of their use, along with their original terminology, among the Nahuatl-speaking communities of Mesoamerica from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Attributes of rank carried profound symbolic meaning, encoding subtle messages about political and social status, ethnic and gender identity, regional origin, individual and community history, and claims to privilege.
Olko engages with and builds upon extensive worldwide scholarship and skillfully illuminates this complex topic, creating a vital contribution to the fields of pre-Columbian and colonial Mexican studies. It is the first book to integrate pre- and post-contact perspectives, uniting concepts and epochs usually studied separately. A wealth of illustrations accompanies the contextual analysis and provides essential depth to this critical work.and#160;Insignia of Rank in the Nahua Worldand#160;substantially expands and elaborates on the themes of Olko'sand#160;Turquoise Diadems and Staffs of Office, originally published in Poland and never released in North America.
About the Author
Justyna Olkoand#160;is a professor in the Faculty of andquot;Artes Liberalesandquot; at the University of Warsaw. She leads Europe and America in Contact, an international team project funded by the European Research Council and focusing on the cross-cultural transfer manifest in Nahua language and culture. She is also involved in an international program centered on the revitalization of Nahuatl and other endangered languages.