San Pablito Pahuatlán in Puebla state, Mexico. Square accordion format, handmade and handbound: 18 x 14 cm. 28 numbered "pages," all but three featuring cutouts of deities as issued. Both sides of the "accordion" with a pair of gold-colored ribbon. Excellent condition. Item #2756
An extraordinary hand-made Mexican book of Healing ritual that almost defies description. This "History of Ancient Cures" is written on the very material that is prescribed for curing ailments physical and spiritual, namely: amate bark "paper." The text describes its healing powers of amate bark paper, and gives recipes and spells in some detail.
The work is folded accordion-style on amate paper, with the Spanish text lettered by hand, and illustrated with amate bark paper cutout figures of deities. The paper for the pages and cutouts from the inner bark of the ficus tree and comes from the primary amate producing village, San Pablito, Pahuatlan (Puebla). The book itself is a manual of ritualist cures / mystical healing for diseases induced by witchcraft; included are potions derived from amati wood itself. The cutouts are figures from the indigenous mythology, including the Lords of the Night, Lords of the Mountain, and of the Nagual. The final pages describe rituals honoring Mother Earth, with offerings of native foods and the Christ Child with the burning of incense and wax.
Such a book demonstrates the continuity of traditional practices of papermaking, book arts, and mystical healing in the everyday life of ancient and contemporary indigenous Mexican peoples.
Pasted onto the inside of the lower "cover" is a sort of Anathema: "Está prohibido copiar este libro porque no pertenece a todos, solo algunos curanderos pueden explicar el contenido, que cada ceremonia tiene su significado y que el curandero que conoce cada aspecto de estas ceremonias es el autor de este libro." [TRANSLATION: It is forbidden to copy this book because it does not belong to everyone, only some healers can explain the content, that each ceremony has its meaning and that the healer who knows every aspect of these ceremonies is the author of this book.]
There are copies at Princeton, Chapel Hill, Univ. Chicago, Vanderbilt, Univ. of Utah, Claremont Colleges, Getty, UC Santa Barbara, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Berlin, and Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This is by no means the only artist book by Alfonso Garcia Tellez. His career as a book artist and an ethnologist have been described in great detail by Pierre Déléage, "Les livres d’Alfonso García Téllez" in: Traverser. Chantier littéraire. Bois-Colombes : Carnets Livres, 2015, p. 118-129.
Imitations of this book were subsequently created for the tourist trade by one Alberto Garcia M. (sic) who replaced Tellez's name on the cover with his own. These are not to be confused with the original work. Our copy is dated "10 de Agosto de 1978" is apparently the date that the work was conceived, and not the date that the book was physically created (cf. Déléage, supra).
Our copy is acccompanied by a complete and hitherto unpublished English translation of the Spanish text -- please inquire.