An ancient story of conquest is heard again
By Monica Pratt
Lienzos are maps that tell the story of a place. The story of the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, one of the oldest of these maps, is being told on the Web 500 years after the events it records occurred. A responsive and intuitive Web site developed by the Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM) and Geosistemas y Tecnología Avanzada, S.A. (Geosistec), ESRI's distributor in Guatemala, using the recently implemented ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight, has made sharing this cartographic treasure with potentially millions around the world possible.
The Original Multimedia Experience
For the peoples of Mesoamerica, place and past were inseparable. Lienzos not only recorded the details of a geographic location but also communicated what happened there in a form of mapping now described as historical cartography. Graphic symbols designate people, places, and dates while stylized images of plants, animals, rivers, roads, and other features indicate where the story took place.
Lienzos were not meant to be studied silently by individuals but were performed aloud for groups by a narrator who brought to life the events shown on the map. The story was recited to audiences assembled at market days and other community gatherings.
A Uniquely Important Map
Dating from circa 1530 to 1540, the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan tells a story of great adventure—the Spanish conquest of Guatemala. It is an important historical document for many reasons. Not only is it the first known map of Guatemala, but it also provides the only firsthand account by indigenous people of this military campaign.
This account changed previously held beliefs about the conquest of Guatemala. The lienzo illustrates how the Quauhquecholteca of central Mexico, who viewed the arrival of the Spanish conquistador Jorge de Alvarado as an opportunity for enhancing their own power base, allied with his forces to conquer Guatemala.
The Quauhquecholtecan artists recorded this triumph on 15 rectangular pieces of cloth. Together, these panels show selected elements, both events and locations, that these artists felt would help listeners best experience the story. The existing map is 10 feet, 6 inches wide by 8 feet, 5 inches long. However, the lienzo did not survive intact. A portion of the right side of the lienzo—perhaps as much as one-third of the original—was cut off. [...]
Read more: http://www.esri.com/news/arcuser/1009/storymap.html