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Quararibea funebris

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Answering my own question:

from a usenet post:

quote:


Some other researchers believe that there was also the flowers of

Quararibea funebris in the mix, when used as a divinitory medicine.

These are available seperately for $5 for 10 grams.

These, and many other perfectly legal herbal products are available

from:

... Of The Jungle

Box 1801

Sebastopol, CA

95473

Is of the jungle still in business (the above post was in 1995)? Anyone making any orders from these guys I could piggy back an extra item onto? T, any chance you could con the store into stocking some for me? :D

Anyone tried it? Any fun?

[ 05. June 2005, 14:34: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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...otj is now split into 'Botanical Preservation Corps' and 'Allies'. The latter does the seeds & plants. They just went online a few months ago.

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The only semi decent post on this I could find was that the effects were GHB-esque?

Anyone care to clarify/shoot me down?

T, doesn't seem that Q. funebris is for sale anymore on botanical preservation corps website :/

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I'm still looking really hard for this seed. Can anyone help?

Toptropicals.com seems to have plants for sale in 1gal pots, but I somehow doubt that'd make it to .au alive :/

[ 03. June 2005, 14:25: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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From Pharmacotheon:

The flowers of this aromatic tree, a modern day additive to cacao potions in Oaxica, Mexico, have been proposed to reperesent the lost Aztec entheogen poyomatali. Although the flowers have not been found to be entheogenic in preliminary trials, intersting lactones and an alkaloid have been isolated from them, A little known shamanic inebrient from Peru, espingo (or ispincu), was recently found to represent the seeds of a species Quararibea. There is the possibility this species, as ishpingo, is used as an ayahuasca additive by Shipibo Conibo Indians of Peru. Recenttly ishpingo was also reported as an additive to entheogenic potions based on the mescaline-containing Trichocereus cacti in Peru. Q.funebris leaves are used ethnomedicinally in Mexico and Q.putumayensis is used by the South American Kofan Indians in the preperation of arrow poisons.

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Top Tropicals

to me

More options 12:46 pm (19 minutes ago)

Dear guy,

We grow this tree from seeds, but we don't have seeds now. I'll try to keep you in mind.

It's practically impossible to bring plants into Australia

Thanks,

Mike

:'(

[ 28. August 2005, 15:31: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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Several years ago someone sent me some seeds, but I gave them away to someone I do not remember. It might have been Copan John.

I do believe that somewhere in the literature there is a reference by Shultes that there was no psychoactivity detectable from bioassays.

I'm not certain where I saw it, but I remember it clearly because it answered the question I had carried around for years.

Somewhere in more recent Ott or Shulgin, I think.

But then again, you've been warned about my memory before...

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friendly, while you may be right, I'd rather test it out to be sure.

A bioassay (the only one I could find anywhere) here, claimed the effects to be like GHB.

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I did some research recently and thought I came across a paper that not only suggested the psychoactivity, but also analysed the active constituent to be a lactone related to GHB. This paper also mentioned another plant that also contained this (or a closely related) lactone being used for similar purposes elsewhere. I thought I saved it in my database, but now I can't find it. I will try again later.

I think one of the issues in the search was a spelling mistake with the name (either yours or the author's). Hmmm, memory not too good today.

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I got the name from the erowid Xochi page.

Also, spelling it any other way in google gives a spelling suggestion...so I figure it's gotta be right.

Don't ask why I've become so obsessed with this plant, I don't know :P

EDIT: I should note that the Xochipilli page is my favourite page on Erowid. I visit it 3 or 4 times a week to reread it and gaze at the images. Am I broken in the head? Most defintately.

[ 05. June 2005, 14:32: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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Didn't find what I was looking for, but came across these bits anyway which should be recorded in this thread.:

The flowers of Quararibea funebris have yielded another new pyrrole lactone alkaloid, named funebradiol

Syntheses of racemic forms of the main secondary metabolites of Quararibea funebris, (+/-)-funebrine, (+/-)-funebral, and their biogenetic precursor (+/-)-(2S,3S,4R)-gamma-hydroxyalloisoluecine lactone have been developed.

Isolation of Two Novel Enamine and Enol Lactones from Quararibea funebris, Vischer (Bombacaceae)

While searching funebral I realised that the epithet funebris may well relate to death. Anyone got any idea if this is right, and if so then why?

Another thing to consider with lactones is that the activity may well be VERY subtle, but may be brought out exponentially in combination with ethanol. Like, a few grams of kava and a shot of vodka will not have much effect on their own, but combined they can make you legless.

[ 05. June 2005, 15:15: Message edited by: Torsten ]

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More info:

funebradiol

RN = 133086-87-0

N1 = 2(5H)-Furanone, 3-(2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)-1H-pyrrol-1-yl)-4,5-dimethyl-, ®-

HM = *Lactones

HM = *Pyrroles

SO = J Nat Prod 1990;53(6):1611

FR = 1

NO = from Quararibea funebris flowers; structure given in first source

DA = 19910524

UI = C068548

funebral

RN = 105708-56-3

N1 = 1H-Pyrrole-2-carboxaldehyde, 5-(hydroxymethyl)-1-(tetrahydro-4,5-dimethyl-2-oxo-3-furanyl)-, (3S-(3alpha,4beta,5alpha))-

HM = *Alkaloids

SO = J Nat Prod 1986;49(4):695

FR = 2

NO = isolated from Quararibea funebris; structure given in first source

DA = 19861223

UI = C050250

funebrine

RN = 0

HM = *Lactones

HM = *Pyrroles

SO = J Org Chem. 2004 Mar 5;69(5):1475-80

FR = 1

NO = structure in first source

DA = 20040503

UI = C484609

I'm still trying to source seed, contacted a few more dealers but it appears to be hard to find anywhere right now.

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Torsten:

While searching funebral I realised that the epithet funebris may well relate to death. Anyone got any idea if this is right, and if so then why?

Research coming in bits and pieces:

quote:


The fragrance stays in dry flowers for decades, thus they were used for funeral ceremonies and were found in crypts still fragrant after many years.

Possible answer?

More info:

quote:


A number of minor spices locally used in the New World were never adopted outside their immediate native locale. One of the most interesting and unusual of these is Quararibea funebris (Llave) Vischer, a small tree (silk-cotton family) indigenous to the warm, regions of southern Mexico, the dried flowers of which provide a highly pungent spice rather suggestive of fenugreek in odor. Since they used them to flavor their chocolate drinks, the Aztecs called these peppery, sticky flowers cacaoxochitl. Today the flowers, known in modern Mexico as flor de cacao, are still in demand in the market place of Oaxaca for flavoring pozonque, a thick, frothy, aromatic beverage made with chocolate, finely ground com meal, and water. Although allspice and eventually vanilla were accepted in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries as desirable and appetizing spices from the New World, the even more piquant cacaoxochitl, rivaling the biting chili peppers in pungency, never became a popular spice outside of Mexico. Yet, according to R. E. Schultes, the odor of this little known spice is so persistent that botanical specimens of Quararibea funebris collected in Mexico in 1841 were still highly aromatic over a century later.

The name cacaoxochitl (note the Xochi) convinces me even more this is the fifth Aztec sacred plant.

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/tropica...ture_35/38m.jpg

Interesting picture of Q. funebris as seen by Columbus.

[ 23. August 2005, 05:57: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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Oh goddamnit. I finally found a good article, and google has no cache and you need a login to access it!

The google summary:

Jorge Canizares-Esguerra - Renaissance Mess(tizaje): What Mexican ...

In the grotesque art of the Casa del Dean, Ocyroe pulls down branches of the

local hallucinogenic plants poyomatli (Quararibea funebris) and ololiuhqui ...

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/new_centennia...s_esguerra.html

EDIT: This page claims Q. funebris is a hallucinogen:

http://theowlsnest.wolf.com/Herbal%20Data%...e.Page%207.html

[ 23. August 2005, 06:05: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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good work! maybe we can get erowid to hunt down that paper

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Just heard from one of the people I emailed:

quote:


I know where there are two fruiting trees, one at the Kampong,

and one at Flamingo Gardens. However, I don't believe this is the

fruiting season. In fact, checking our message board archives, I see

that it is January when it fruits. I'll get some then for you, if you

remind me.

So at least come January, we should be able to get some seed. I am working on procuring some for the up and coming growing season though.

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More info:

quote:


I am aware of the history of Q. funebris as an ingredient in

hallucinogenic brews, although I believe it functions as a catalyst

for other reactions, and has no hallucinogenic properties itself. I

even know someone, Crafton Cliff, who has drunk the dried flowers as

part of a Mexican cacao beverage, and he said it was quite good!

Also T, how can I get in contact with erowid? I can't seem to find a single appropriate contact email on the site. One for complaints, one for queries about erowid, one for submissions, etc etc but nothing appropriate.

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nice work Apo. :)

That's some good research-un.

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Thanks Benz :)

I finally found the Allies website, awesome catalogue! But don't sell the seed.

http://www.alliesonline.net/med-seeds.html

More info:

quote:


Crafton claimed they took raw Cacao seed contents, Q. funebris

flowers, and something else (coconut water? milk? sugar?), and

whipped it up in a blender.

[ 28. August 2005, 02:28: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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Is this the picture of the flower on page 398 of "Psychedelics Encyclopedia' by Peter Stafford? The flowers look like the same ones in Ratsch's Theobroma page in his book. It says it was an inebriating substance taken at night with chocolate. Says it was taken from Guatemala by Jeremy Bigwood for chemical investigation. Maybe he has some info?

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Bigwood huh, sounds a bit pornstarish :D

How do I contact this fellow?

EDIT: On that note, I haven't heard back from erowid yet

[ 02. September 2005, 11:25: Message edited by: apothecary ]

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Thankye. Btw, your letter came today, I will post bioassay in the proper thread tonight :)

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I have access to Project Muse.

First, the paragraph where the plant in question is mentioned:

European mannerist "hybridity" was transformed into "mestizaje" in the hands of the Indians who paired pagan centaurs and sibyls with deities of their own. Behind the frescos of the Casa del Dean in Puebla, for example, lie grotesque designs that promiscuously blend pagan and Indian iconographies. One design, for example, brings Ocyroe, a female centaur who, according to Ovid, foretold the future glories of her father Chiron, together with ozomatli, a monkey Nahua deity and a sacred calendrical sign. In the grotesque art of the Casa del Dean, Ocyroe pulls down branches of the local hallucinogenic plants poyomatli (Quararibea funebris) and ololiuhqui (Turbina corymbosa) for ozomatli's consumption. In the foliage, animals, and mythical creatures of the grotesque at the Casa del Dean there are subsumed at least three narratives: a Roman pagan myth of prophesy, a Renaissance Catholic allegory of virtues and vices, and a Nahua plot of ritual intoxication by the divinity. These three narratives cannot and should not be dissociated for purposes of identity analysis. The grotesque in the Puebla fresco is an entirely new mestizo product, different from all the traditions that went into its making. Severing the Nahua narrative to find the authentic, submerged Indian voices distorts the meaning of the Puebla frescoes.

And, below the article in its entirety:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright © 2002 The Michigan State University Press. All rights reserved.

CR: The New Centennial Review 2.1 (2002) 267-276

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Access provided by Middle Tennessee State University

[Access article in PDF]

Book Review

Renaissance Mess(tizaje):

What Mexican Indians Did to Titian and Ovid

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

SUNY-Buffalo/Charles Warren Center, Harvard University

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

La pensée métisse. By Serge Gruzinski. Paris: Fayard, 1999

What do modern filmmakers and artists have to contribute methodologically to the well-worn subject of the "conquest" and "discovery" of the New World? What could a study of Mexican sixteenth-century frescos by a French historian possibly have to add to current debates on "multiculturalism," cultural studies, and identity politics in the United States?

La pensée métisse is Serge Gruzinski's most recent attempt to study the process of occidentalisation that took place within the indigenous communities of Central Mexico after the Conquest, particularly in the sixteenth-century. Gruzinski has made a name for himself by exploring the changes brought about by the Conquest to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, particularly changes overlooked by a scholarship long fixated on chronicling economic and demographic transformations. His work has not sought to identify the "Indian traditions" that through dogged resistance survived Europe's assault, "traditions" purportedly waiting for the modern anthropologist and enthnohistorian to make them visible. Unlike many U.S., European, and Latin American scholars who approach the past of the indigenous peoples of the Americas looking for the "non-Western" voices of [End Page 267] subalterns buried amidst "Western" records of domination, Gruzinski has throughout his career looked for the "West" in the "Other."

Gruzinski's first book, Les Hommes-dieux du Mexique (1985), for example, traced the transformation of a particular form of Mesoamerican religious sensibility, the ixiptla, that assumed that the sacred seized individuals, making them divine, a view of the embodiment of the sacred in the world not to be confused with pagan avatars or Judeo-Christian incarnations. Gruzinski identified many man-gods who appeared in Central Mexico between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries to challenge the Catholic clergy. Although written within the paradigm of resistance studies, the book showed in exquisite detail the changing nature of the discourses wielded by these challengers, who as the colonial period unfolded came to share with their clerical enemies similar mental landscapes and religious languages. 1

In La Colonisation de l'imaginaire (1988), Gruzinski chronicled other aspects of the process of massive transculturation witnessed in colonial Mexico, particularly in the sixteenth century. 2 His focus this time was the hundreds of "painted" codices to which scholars have usually turned to document the prehispanic past. With the exception of a handful, most of these codices, however, are not prehispanic but colonial, drawn at the request of Spanish patrons, litigants in colonial courts, and self-aggrandizing indigenous elites determined to carve out for themselves a niche in the new colonial polity. Through a skillful and creative handling of these sources, Gruzinski demonstrated that the incorporation of alphabetical writing to the store of ideographic and pictographic scripts of Central Mexico was a negotiated, convoluted, and, most important, richly creative process. As new genres and new scripts arrived, new conceptions of the self, time, and space came into being. The arrival of "Western" forms of representation of sounds, images, space (maps), and time (historical narratives) suddenly collided with those that had been available, and the indigenous peoples of Mexico came away transformed forever. Gruzinski's L'Amérique de la Conquête peinte par les Indies du Mexique (1991) offered a synthesis of the same themes through a stunning visual compilation of many of these codices. 3

Gruzinski has maintained unabated his emphasis on illustrated colonial documents and on chronicling processes of cultural transformation. In La [End Page 268] Guerre des images de Christophe Colomb à Blade Runner, 1492-2019 (1990), he studied the indigenous appropriation of colonial Christian religious iconography. 4 In L'Aigle et la Sibylle (1994), Gruzinski turned to a long overlooked genre of colonial images, namely, the frescos decorating the walls of dozens of sixteenth-century Mexican clerical buildings, some 300,000 square meters in all. 5 Given their extent, beauty, and complexity it is puzzling that up until Gruzinski, these frescos had scarcely been noticed by the scholarly community, even of Mexico. L'Aigle et la Sybille was Gruzinski's first sustained scholarly reflection of the importance these frescos held for understanding the occidentalisation of sixteenth-century indigenous religious and aesthetic sensibilities. Like L'Amerique de la Conquete, the book itself is a work of art, a tribute to the complexity and beauty of the images produced during the Renaissance in Mexico. It is a stunning visual selection, particularly of frescos at the Augustinian convents of Actopan and Ixmiquilpan (both in the state of Hidalgo), the Franciscan monastery of Tecamachalco (state of Puebla), and the house of the dean of the cathedral chapter of the city of Puebla (La Casa del Dean).

A handful of images from the Florentine Codex, one indigenous map from the Relación geográfica de Cholula (1581), a song from a compilation of Cantares Mexicanos (chants performed during ritual dances in the early colonial period), and the frescos studied in L'Aigle et la Sybille are the material upon which Gruzinski builds his La pensée métisse, a book deliberately written to rattle conventions and stereotypes and to challenge the whole industry of "cultural studies" as understood in some circles.

Although never explicitly stated, it is plausible to argue that the principal target of Gruzinki's critique is the discipline of Mesoamerican ethnohistory as is currently practiced in the United States. This discipline has lately lavished attention on thousands of wills, town council minutes, religious documents, and court records written in alphabetical scripts in indigenous languages by the natives themselves. Although the editing, glossing, and interpretation of these documents is a most welcome development, it has paradoxically led to an interpretation of the colonial period that considers Spanish and Indians as two self-centered communities that, due to persistent cultural misunderstandings, developed largely in isolation. James [End Page 269] Lockhart, a distinguished colonial historian at UCLA, and his many disciples have deployed these indigenous colonial documents to argue that, notwithstanding important, obvious demographic shifts, the impact of the Conquest on sixteenth-century indigenous communities remained negligible. The deepest cultural behavior of these communities as revealed in the structure of their language, land-holding patterns, household settings, and corporate identities changed very slowly, and in the sixteenth century it was modified only slightly. 6 Moreover, ethnohistorians who privilege indigenous sources express some doubt that the Indians might have perceived the Conquest as an earth-shattering event. The historical narratives of certain colonial Maya polities, for example, reveal that age-old invasions by local ethnic rivals rather than the arrival of the Europeans were the episodes around which colonial Mayan historical memories and periodizations were in fact organized. 7 The Eurocentric narratives that have traditionally cast the Spaniards as gods in the eyes of the Indians have come tumbling down; so too have approaches that do not treat Indians and Spaniards as two separate communities. By seeking to reconstruct obliterated "Indian" voices long buried by a scholarship that has privileged "European" sources, these historians overlook stories of irreversible transformation, mongrelization, hybridity, and mestizaje.

Gruzinski sees this tendency to study the Indians and Spaniards (and blacks) as separate groups as unfortunate, a fashion that is becoming dominant largely due to the global power of the "American empire," whose universities and presses command undue respect. At the core of this tendency lies the new discipline of cultural studies, which, for all its talk of "hybridities," has perversely contributed to reifying and essentializing "identities." 8 According to Gruzinski, cultural studies and its discursive entourage of multiculturalism and "political correctness" have merely recycled old-fashioned formulas first put in circulation by "third-world" ideologues (11). Moreover, multiculturalism has contributed to worsening the American and European tendency to exoticise Latin America. By seeking to reconstruct the "Indianness" of the Indian population, the submerged voices of the subaltern drowned by the dominant European discourse, ethnohistorians have made alterity and difference their focus. [End Page 270]

The United States seems to be a society condemned to oscillate between "universalist" and "pluralist" conceptions of the polity, without the tools to understand processes of mongrelization. On the one hand, universalists, as David Hollinger has suggested, have traditionally held the Anglo-Protestant experience as the norm. Through acculturating and assimilationist schemes, they have sought to do away with diversity that purportedly threatens the civic unity of the "nation." Although they have encouraged the cultural transformation of minority religious and ethnic groups, universalists look askance at the novelties and disorder that seem to come along with processes of mestizaje. Minorities should simply embrace mainstream values wholesale to maintain intact the alleged original "Western" values of the nation. On the other hand, pluralists have understood "America" as a composite of culturally diverse groups, each distinct and separate. If in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries, pluralists understood diversity in religious terms (Catholic-Jewish-Protestant), now they do so in ethno-racial ones. For them whites, blacks, Hispanics, Indians, and Asians make up the nation, a tapestry of separate and distinct ethno-racial identities. Currently pluralists seem to have won the debate. 9

The shift from "species" to "ethnos," the embrace of multicultural diversity in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement, has paradoxically contributed to the rigidification of identities. Multiculturalism just as much as Anglo-universalism has a very difficult time grappling with hybridities, that is, with the experience of groups and individuals who cannot be pigeonholed neatly into any of the categories of the ethno-racial pentagon. It is not surprising that with the turn to multiculturalism, U.S. historians have set out to find these groups with their reified identities in the Latin American past.

But why have historians and anthropologists, independently of whether they subscribe to the tenets of political correctness and multiculturalism, failed to see the Indians of Mexico, for example, as active participants in the arts and sciences of the Renaissance? For Gruzinski the problem lies in the tools of analysis of these two disciplines. Social phenomena characterized by hybridity and mestizaje are rendered invisible by such categories as "culture," "identity," and "causation." Culture conveys wholeness, identity finality, and causation orderly direction. Processes of mestizaje, however, [End Page 271] are characterized by incompleteness, fluidity, and unpredictability. 10 So according to Gruzinski, scholars should turn to other disciplines for inspiration. Gruzinski, for example, makes good use of chaos theory, equating the study of mestizaje to the analysis of cloud formations.

Art is another field from which Gruzinski draws insights. La pensée métisse is full of references to film makers, photographers, and writers whose narratives either challenge stereotypes and expectations or offer models on how to represent hybridity and mestizaje (which Gruzinski considers two separate and distinct analytical categories: hybridity as the disorderly mixture of conventions held by a group and mestizaje as disorder elicited by contact across group boundaries). Mario de Andrade (1893-1945), the founder of the modernist movement in Brazil, provides Gruzinski with the tools to process his own personal experience at Algodonal, a village on the banks of the Amazon. "Sou um tupi tangendo un alaúde" ("I am [an Indian] Tupi playing a lute"), Andrade once remarked in a poem. Like Andrade, who managed to hold two (or more) "identities" at once without suffering from schizophrenia, the inhabitants of isolated Algodonal dwell in several worlds, comfortably mixing the practices of the Amazonian Indians (fishing, hunting) with those of formerly enslaved Africans (performing capoiera, a form of martial arts) while at the same time watching soap operas during the evening on their satellite-TVs. The exoticising expectations of outsiders are tested when exposed to the mestizo world of Algodonal.

To interpret sixteenth-century Mexican frescos, Gruzinski turns to the films of the British director Peter Greenaway. Prospero's Books (1991), Greenaway's adaptation of Shakespeare's Tempest, allows Gruzinski to see transparently the hybrid nature of the Renaissance and to reflect on the importance of the mannerist decorative arts and of the emblematic tradition to sixteenth-century Mexico. The grotesque was the trademark of Renaissance Mannerism, blending carelessly foliage, flowers, fruits, animals, and persons in bizarre designs. Renaissance Mannerism was also characterized by the gluttonous and open-ended exegesis of classical texts. The allegorical, emblematic reading of Ovid's Metamorphosis, in which pagan deities were transformed into allegories for Christian virtues, was typical of this approach. The openness to hybridity of the Renaissance kept [End Page 272] many manifestations of Indian paganism from going underground and even allowed them to be flaunted inside Christian temples.

European mannerist "hybridity" was transformed into "mestizaje" in the hands of the Indians who paired pagan centaurs and sibyls with deities of their own. Behind the frescos of the Casa del Dean in Puebla, for example, lie grotesque designs that promiscuously blend pagan and Indian iconographies. One design, for example, brings Ocyroe, a female centaur who, according to Ovid, foretold the future glories of her father Chiron, together with ozomatli, a monkey Nahua deity and a sacred calendrical sign. In the grotesque art of the Casa del Dean, Ocyroe pulls down branches of the local hallucinogenic plants poyomatli (Quararibea funebris) and ololiuhqui (Turbina corymbosa) for ozomatli's consumption. In the foliage, animals, and mythical creatures of the grotesque at the Casa del Dean there are subsumed at least three narratives: a Roman pagan myth of prophesy, a Renaissance Catholic allegory of virtues and vices, and a Nahua plot of ritual intoxication by the divinity. These three narratives cannot and should not be dissociated for purposes of identity analysis. The grotesque in the Puebla fresco is an entirely new mestizo product, different from all the traditions that went into its making. Severing the Nahua narrative to find the authentic, submerged Indian voices distorts the meaning of the Puebla frescoes.

Greenway's Pillow Book (1995) allows Gruzinski to think of how the turn from "hybridity" to "mestizaje" should be represented. The film by the British director recounts the life of Nagiko, the daughter of a Japanese calligrapher who uses the bodies of her male lovers as paper. A film of the audio-visual complexity of Pillow Book cannot be easily summarized. It shuttles back and forth in time and space. In the mixture of her calligraphies and lovers, Nagiko embodies several worlds and languages. Nagiko is as thoroughly mestizo as the film itself, equally at home with "Asian" and "European" conventions and audiences. Gruzinski also finds the films of Wong Kar-wai analytically powerful models of how to represent the phenomena of mestizaje, particularly Kar-wai's Ashes of Time (a Kung-fu action film that draws on the genre of westerns, turning Chinese warriors into Mexican bandits and Texan cowboys) and Happy Together (the story of [End Page 273] Hong-Kong gay émigrés struggling to survive in Buenos Aires, blending in the process traditions and landscapes).

The films by Wong Kar-wai are part of a larger trend among Hong Kong artists, whose everyday experience of mestizaje allows them to break aesthetic conventions and explore new territories. An explosion of creative power seems to be behind both the sixteenth-century indigenous painters of Mexican frescos and the art of contemporary Hong Kong filmmakers. In a thesis that resembles the one put forth by Ann Douglas in Terrible Honesty (1995), Gruzinski endows mestizaje with unlimited creative virtues. According to Douglas, New York temporarily witnessed the blurring of ethno-racial identities in the 1920s. Black and white intellectuals came together to construct a distinct collective American intellectual culture, deliberately different from Europe's and whose most remarkable product became the Harlem Renaissance. Mongrelization in Manhattan generated products of extraordinary beauty and originality. 11 Mestizaje did the same for sixteenth-century Mexico as dozens of frescos, codices, maps, and ritual songs subtly altered indigenous and European genres, traditions, and conventions.

For Gruzinki mestizaje is to be celebrated. It first began as a phenomenon that affected the indigenous masses of sixteenth-century Mexico; now it is a global occurrence sweeping over the great metropolis of the world, including Paris and Hong Kong. Thus for Gruzinski, the study of sixteenth-century Mexico is not an antiquarian exercise but an activity that should shed abundant light on contemporary predicaments and challenges. Five centuries of ceaseless mongrelization in Latin America have much to teach to contemporary France.

Gruzinski finds in sixteenth-century Mexico Indians who are astute readers of Ovid, good disciples of Titian (1490?-1576), and avid consumers of Renaissance grotesquerie because he seeks to shock his audiences (both European and U.S.), so used to thinking of Mexico as a land of poor disenfranchised "non-Western" others. This is an important aspect of Gruzinski's work that should not go unmentioned. In a previous book, Histoire de Mexico (1996), Gruzinski had already sought to shake his French audiences out of their condescending stereotypes. The book is an unconventional history of [End Page 274] the city of Mexico that follows zigzagging periodizations, going back and forth in time. 12 Only a short section is devoted to the prehispanic past of the city, to the history of Tenochtitlan. Another section is devoted to the different processes of mongrelization witnessed in Mexico City. Finally, and more important for the purpose of this review, at least one third of the book recounts the "Western," vibrant intellectual history of the city: its various Mannerist, Baroque, Enlightenment, Victorian, Fin-de-siècle, and Modernist phases. The reader is offered an unambiguous reminder of Mexico City as a world-class center of intellectual innovation: an equal to Vienna in the Baroque, a match to New York and Paris in the 1930s and 40s. Audiences who have only had access to tragic, exoticising narratives of the Mexican past should find Gruzinski's recent new books shocking and refreshing.

U.S. students and academics will benefit greatly from approaches that find mestizo Mexico as a place of extraordinary creativity, full of breathtaking Renaissance frescos, beautiful Baroque musical traditions, and outstanding nineteenth-century operas, all of them every bit as "Mexican" as the pyramids of Teotihuacan and subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas.

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Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra Teaches history at SUNY-Buffalo. He is the author of How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford 2001). He is currently a fellow at Harvard's Charles Warren Center.

Notes

1. Serge Gruzinski, Les Hommes-dieux du Mexique. Pouvoir indien et société coloniale, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Editions des Archives contemporaines, 1985). It has been translated into English as Man-Gods in the Mexican Highlands: Indian Power and Colonial Society, 1520-1800, translated by Eileen Corrigan (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1989).

2. Serge Gruzinski, La Colonisation de l'imaginaire. Sociétés indigènes et occidentalisation dans le Mexique espagnol, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Gallimard, 1988). It is also available in English as The Conquest of Mexico: The Incorporation of Indian Societies into the Western World, 16th-18th centuries, translated by Eileen Corrigan (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1993).

3. Serge Gruzinski, L'Amérique de la Conquête peinte par les Indies du Mexique (Paris: Flammarion/Unesco, 1991). It is available in English as Painting the Conquest: Mexican Indians and the European Renaissance, translated by Deke Dusinberre (Paris: Flammarion/Unesco, 1992).

4. Serge Gruzinski, La Guerre des images de Christophe Colomb à Blade Runner, 1492-2019 (Paris: Fayard, 1990). The English translation goes under the title Images at War: Mexico from Columbus to Blade Runner (1492-2019), translated by Heather MacLean (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001).

5. Serge Gruzinski, L'Aigle et la Sibylle, Fresques indiennes des convents du Mexique (Paris: L'Imprimerie nationale, 1994).

6. James Lockhart, The Nahuas after the Conquest. A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1992).

7. See, for example, Mathew Restall, Maya Conquistador (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998).

8. Paul Gilroy has put forth a similar critique of cultural studies in England for its readiness to identify and pigeonhole a "Black" identity. See his The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).

9. David A. Hollinger, Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism (New York: Basic Books, 1995).

10. Gruzinski's critique of the concepts of "culture" and "identity" resembles that put forth some years ago by James Clifford in The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988).

11. Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995). Many thanks to David C. Engerman, who led me to this book.

12. Serge Gruzinski, Histoire de Mexico (Paris: Fayard, 1966).

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