Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández VillarrealPublisher’s Note:
Adapted from prologue. “Since its rediscovery in the mid-nineteenth century the codex Cantares Mexicanos has come to be recognized as the chief source of Aztec poetry and one of the monuments of American Indian literature (…) Over the years a tradition has gradually been established that views the Cantares as a poet’s miscellany, studded with lyrics composed by famous kings (…) [Bierhorst’s edition] breaks with this tradition (…) The findings [of the present study] in brief are these: The ninety-one songs in the Cantares, without exception, belong to a single genre, which flourishes during the third quarter of the sixteenth century. Netotiliztli (or dance associated with worldly entertainment) is the native name that appears to have been applied to the genre in its entirety. But for lack of certainty on this point, and for the sake of convenience, I have chosen to designate it by the term “ghost songs.” (…) the Aztec ghost song may be described as a musical performance in which warrior-singers summon the ghosts of ancestors in order to swell their ranks and overwhelm their enemies. (…) The Cantares itself (…) is limited to songs belonging to the city-state of Mexico, or to Mexico and its close ally, Azcapotzalco (…) Although it is possible that a few of the songs in the Cantares manuscripts were composed before the Conquest, by far the greater number belong to the post-Conquest period.”
Unknown. Cantares Mexicanos: Songs of the Aztecs.
1985, John Bierhorst (trans.). Stanford University Press
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