Answer Key: Ticha

Eloise Kadlecek and Shoshana Promer

This sample answer key corresponds to the Ticha chapter. Keep in mind, in most cases, there may be more than one way to answer a question.

Exercise 2.1

On your own or with a partner, try transcribing the text from the image. (Or use the link above to see the original image, if that helps.) In what ways does this handwriting look different from handwriting you might be used to now?

años de 1684


Nillaa beJuanana Jesu Christo xini Dios ni cotini lani crus

Nipe zij laani quiraa Tijca toño…


Answers may vary, possible answers include the ornate lettering, symbols.


Exercise 3.1

The document in Figure 2 is a will (or testament) by Rafael Luis, written in San Pedro el Alto in 1684. Read through the metadata and identify where this information is located on the page.

This metadata is located to the right of the picture of the manuscript, to the left of the text tab.


Exercise 3.2

Using the metadata column, identify the Archive, Collection, Call Number, and Page Numbers for Rafael Luis’s will. If you wanted to see this document in person at the archive, you would need to provide this information to the staff.

Archive: Archivo General de la Nación, México

Collection: Tierras

Call Number: Volumen 981, Exp 2, 1774-83

Page Numbers: 27r-28r


Exercise 3.3

Compare your transcription from earlier with the transcription that is on Ticha. Are there particular letters that were hard for you to identify? (If you practice transcribing Colonial Zapotec documents, you will quickly get better at reading the handwriting!)

Possible answers may include: l’s and t’s, x’s and r’s, also spacing between the words


Exercise 4.1

Scroll through the timeline. Are there particular time periods where there are more or fewer documents? What factors may be contributing to these differences in distribution?

The early 1600s and the early 1800s both have fewer manuscripts than other time periods. Perhaps manuscripts were lost, or different methods of documentation were used.


Exercise 4.2

Choose a town that interests you. (Maybe your hometown is on the list!) How many manuscripts are available from that town? What types of documents are they — Wills? Receipts? How many of them are written in Zapotec, and how many in Spanish?

Answers may vary. One possible answer may include: There are 5 manuscripts from Teotitlán del Valle. They are all testaments. 1 is written in Zapotec and 4 are written in Spanish.


Exercise 5.2

Want to see another printed book in Colonial Valley Zapotec? Try looking at Feria’s Doctrina, which is a bilingual Spanish-Zapotec Catholic doctrine ( In what ways does it seem similar to Cordova’s Arte? In what ways does it seem different?

Answers may vary. Sample answer: Some of the printing conventions seem similar, such as intricate lettering or markings on pages. Cordova’s Arte is a grammar of Colonial Valley Zapotec and Feria’s Doctrina is a religious text. While both contain Spanish and Zapotec, Cordova’s Arte was most likely for Spanish-speakers studying Zapotec, while Feria’s Doctrina was written for both Spanish and Zapotec audiences.


Exercise 5.3

Explore more on your own. There are other pages on Ticha that we didn’t cover in this introduction. Feel free to look around! Share a brief description of another text or manuscript you find.

Answers may vary. Sample answer: Aguero’s Miscelaneo Espiritual is a collection of smaller books that have been combined into a single volume. It discusses many 17th century Zapotec cultural practices.


Exercise 5.4

What did you learn about Zapotec history and language by looking through this website? What further questions do you have?

Answers may vary. Sample answer: There are many types of documents in Zapotec such as testaments, land deeds, bills of sale, receipts, and many discuss local politics and cultural practices at the time they were published. Land ownership and religion were very important and were documented in these manuscripts.


Exercise 6.1

Not all colonial documents end up in archives. Choose one of the publications and read the first few pages about the historical context of the document. Why was this document archived?

Answers may vary. Sample answer: Un testamento zapoteco del valle was archived because it contained many important documents in Zapotec such as testaments and land documentation from 1568 to 1792.


Exercise 6.2

Compare Line 4 and Line 3 in the example above, and identify some differences between Colonial Valley Zapotec grammar and English grammar.

Answers may vary. Sample answers: In the text, “of God”, which in English would go next to each other, is split with many words in between in Zapotec. Also in Zapotec, the object is the first word of the sentence. In Zapotec, the subject is included in the verb, differing from English but similar to Spanish.


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