A Colima Seated Figure with Empty Sack
Large-bodied figure seated with short legs bent in, hands clasped under chin, placid facial expression, a finely drawn textile or basketry sack descends down back from tumpline on forehead.
The state of Colima was home to a number of pre-Hispanic cultures as part of Western Mexico. Archeological evidence dates human occupation of the area as far back as 1500 BCE, with sites here contemporary with San Lorenzo on the Gulf Coast and Tlatilco in the Valley of Mexico.
One period of the area’s development is called the Los Ortices era, which began around 500 BCE. During this time the elements that characterize the pre-Hispanic peoples of Colima appear, including shaft tombs and a distinctive ceramic style called rojo bruñido, or burnished red.
The next phase, called Comala and centered on a site of the same name, was from around 100 to 600 CE.
The Comala people perfected burnished red pottery and created representations of people and animals with skill and fluid lines. The best known of these figures are known as the fattened dogs. The Comala site shows influence from Teotihuacan.
Around 500 CE, another site in Armería developed along the river of the same name.
After conquering the Aztecs and the Purépecha, the Spanish made incursions into Colima. The first incursion into the Colima area occurred under Juan Rodríguez de Villafuerte in 1522 but was defeated by the natives of the Tecomán Valley. Hernán Cortés then sent Gonzalo de Sandoval to defeat the Tecos, which he did at the Paso de Alima and the Palenque de Tecomán.
Sandoval then established the first Spanish settlement in the Colima Valley called Caxitlán in 1523, making it the third oldest functioning city government in Mexico and the second municipality of western New Spain.
In 1527, Francisco Cortés de San Buenaventura moved the Spanish settlement to its current located and changing the name to San Sebastián de Colima.
Revillagigedo Archipelago was discovered 1533 by Hernando de Grijalva. The state’s first port at Tzalahua would be an important site for about 300 years of Spanish colonial rule as a line of defense and a commercial center.
After the Conquest, the native population was reduced drastically. Some estimations state that the population declines from 150,000 in 1523 to 15,000 in 1554, rebounding somewhat in the 17th century. This population reduction led to the introduction of African slaves and indigenous people from neighboring regions.
Evangelization was carried out by the Franciscans who established the San Francisco de Coliman monastery in 1554 then the Almoloyan monastery. They would be followed by the Mercedarians and the Brothers of Saint John of the Cross. It was originally made part of the diocese of Valladolid (Morelia).