MATERIAL: Hand-Written/Painted
TYPE: Manuscript
COMPONENTS: 4 leaves. Black ink.
NOTES: Conjuradores de granizo and sorcery in the New Spain Hail Conjurer, or in nahuatl “teciuhpehuique”, were terms that referred to the practice of witchcraft. As early as the XVI the term was already in used and hardly punished by the colonial authorities. Horacio Carochi writes in his “Arte de la Lengua Mexicana” of 1645 about the teciuhpehuiques:Dizen ellos, que hablan con los Dioses del agua, y los que professan ser bruxos (They say that they speak with the gods of water and that they practice witchcraft) The Mexican Conclilum of 1585 recognized the practice of “conjuradores de granizo” and condemned it as a form of witchcraft, which deserved a harsh punishment along with the sorcerers, soothsayers, poisoners, charmers, healers, etc. The Concilium declared that the punishment for those who practiced any kind of sorcery was a public lashing and a crown that the penitent had to use as a form of public humiliation. Punishment applicable for first offenders, repeated offender could even be given a death sentence. On the other hands, those who consulted a sorcerer or fortuneteller as punishment had to attend a public mass in a festive day bareheaded, without coat or blanket, barefoot, with a rope in the neck and holding a candle, while the friar read aloud the crime.According to various chroniclers, including Juan Buenaventura Zapata y Mendoza, this forms of punishment prevailed until the late XVIII century; that is until the Borbonic reforms introduced a more humane treatment for the Indians and for punishments of sorcery and witchcraft. The specific form of witchcraft of “Conjurador de granizo” was widely documented during the colonial era. Both Orozco y Berra and Mendieta describe seeing actual Hail Sorcerers “shaking their blankets toward the clouds while reciting ‘exorcisms’”. They were said to have the power to control atmospheric phenomena: torrential rain, lightning and storms, hailstorms, winds and periods of drought. They were feared as they were respected; according to De la Serna, the Indians paid half Reales, or Pulque so they protect their crops – and in many occasions, they paid them to ruin another region or towns crops.

More info at: Historia de la iglesia en Mexico by Mariano Cuevas; 1946. Graniceros, los ritualistas del rayo en México: historia y etnografía by David Lorente Fernández. El control eclesiástico y civil de la hechicería indígena en la Nueva España/The civil and ecclesiastical control of Indian sorcery in New Spain by Olivia Luzán Cervantes.
ITEM ID: 3883

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Handwritten Letter in Defense of Jailed Natives

Year: 1743
Decade: 1740s
Century: 18th (1701-1800)

A letter in defense of two Indians jailed and accused of witchcraft Toluca, Mexico. The first sections consists on the declaration of Pascual Francisco and Luis Antonio, Indian from the town of Tlacotipec of the territory of Toluca, who were jailed under the charges of being sorcerers: “teciuhpehuique” or “Conjurador de granizo”. The Indians declare that the charges are fake and possibly made up by someone who wanted to harm them because they hate them or are envious. They said that they are both fervent Catholics. They said that there is a chance that whoever made the denunciation saw them put holy “palm leafs”, crosses and incense whenever there is a storm; which is a custom to make among the Caxtlitecoatl Indians. That, they argue, may have led someone that they are “conjuradores de granizo” (Hail Conjurers). They ask for them to be released meanwhile the investigation is in progress. The following pages of the document consist of the declarations of three witnesses that testify that they know the accused Indians and that they aren´t conjurers.