Lacquer, known in Mexico as Maque, in China as Ch'í-Ch'í and in
Japan as Urushi, was a technology well-known in Michoacán, on
the west coast of Mexico, at the time of the Spanish invasion.
The process of lacquering was practiced for several centuries by
pre-Columbian Amerindians in what today are the States of
Chiapas, Guerrero, and Michoacán, and perhaps as far north as
Sinaloa. The pre-Columbian Maque technology is mentioned in the
Mendocino Codex, by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in his Historia
General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, [General History of the
Matters of New Spain] and also by Fray Mendieta in his Crónicas
de Nueva España [Chronicles of New Spain].
China is regarded as the original home of lacquer. The Chinese
recognized the protective qualities of the sap at least three
thousand years ago (Casals, 1961:7). From China it was
introduced to Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and India, (Abrams
1984:19; Garner, 1969:16), and it seems, also to west Mexico.
The earliest known example of Chinese lacquer dates from the
Shang Dynasty, ca. 1523-1028 BC, when the middle kingdoms of
China began using lacquer on household utensils, furniture, art
objects, and to preserve historic records carved on bones and
bamboo (Abrams, 1984:20).
The oldest fragments of lacquered objects found in Japan so far,
occur before the Jomon period, ca. 6th to 3rd centuries B.C.
Archaeological excavations have produced artifacts and fragments
of lacquered objects dating from the Yayoi period ca. 250 BC-250
AD (von Ragué, 1967:4-5). In Japan lacquer producing trees
became as important as the Mulberry for silkworms and paper
making, and tea producing plants (Hayashi, 1983:360). Formal
lacquer production in Japan can be defined to occur during the
Kofun period, ca. 3th to 6th century (von Ragué, 1967:5; Casals,
1961:8). With the introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century
lacquer became the medium to religious decoration.
Uruapan in Michoacán is considered the cradle of maque together
with other centers in Chiapas and Guerrero. Maque art flourished
there long before European contact. How did the Michoacán people
come to know this art? Did they develop it? Was it introduced
from Asia? If so, when and how? Maque in Michoacán probably
dates from between the 8th and 12th centuries, when a wave of
cultural innovations appeared in Michoacán, along with
metallurgy and a new ceramic style.
Perhaps it was introduced earlier by the Buddhist monk, Hui
Sheng, who in 458 A.D. led a group of monks from the kingdom of
Jibin, today called Cachemira, on a voyage to the land of Fusang
or Fusangguo, as recorded in the Chinese encyclopedia and other
historical documents. Fusang is the Japanese word for a tree and
describes the saguaro cactus plant native to Mexico, and guo
means "country" or "land." Hui Shen returned to China 41 years
later, in 499, and reported his findings to the Xiao kingdom of
the Qi state. It was recorded as his personal testimony during
the Liang dynasty between 520 and 528 (Vargas, 1990:13-14).
In 1920, the Secretary of the Chinese Legation in Mexico and the
artist Gerardo Murillo, better known as Dr. Atl, were convinced
that about the year 600 AD, the Chinese reached the west coast
of Mexico to where now are the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca,
Michoacán, Jalisco, and Nayarit. Dr. Atl published an article
titled "The Chinese were the discoverers of our nation" in the
newspaper Excelsior, on May 22, 1921. He speculated that
merchants introduced the lacquer technology (de Paul León,
There is a story in Nayarit of a pre-Columbian Asian ship that
arrived on their coast and was cordially received by the chief
of the Coras. Archaeology in Nayarit has produced artistic
tripod ceramic funerary urns in tombs known as tumbas de Tiro y
cámara (shaft and chamber tombs); dated ca. 1000 to 200 BC.
The culture known as Ancient Coras (400-900 AD) practiced
terraced agriculture, and between 900 to 1200 metallurgy was
introduced (Encyclopedia de Mexico, Vol.9:671-672). Indeed, a
multitude of evidence indicates that a vast network of Pacific
rim merchants traded along the coast of the American continent
from Peru to Alaska (Murra, 1991). (Fig.1,2)
LACQUER TECHNOLOGY IN ASIA
There are two principal types of lacquer: one from tree sap, the
other from an insect. The first type is made from sap extracted
from the Rhus verniciflua, a tree indigenous to China, Japan,
and Korea, closely related to the sumac; and the Rhus
melonórrhoea laccífera and the Rhus usitata trees, native to
Southeast Asia. The sap from these trees is considered to be the
true lacquer (Bedford, 1969:5; Hayashi, 1983:360). The second
type, native to India, Burma, and other regions of Southeast
Asia, is a red gummy substance deposited on the bark of certain
trees by the insect Coccus laccá or Tachardia laccá (Bedford,
1969:5; Casals, 1961:5). The insects are related to the aje and
cochineal insects found in west Mexico. Aje is the source of
lacquer in Michoacán. The insects feed from selected sap,
producing a waxy substance that hardens on their body and serves
as protection against other insects.
The Hindustani term lac was applied to the substance produced by
the insects on the bark of trees (Bedford, 1969:5), and the word
Laccá, that in English became lacquer, was introduced to the
world ca. 1553, by the Portuguese who brought it back from their
travels in the Orient (Garner, 1979:19).
Lacquer is resistant to water, acids, and heat. (Yoshino,
1959:16) Undamaged objects have been found in ancient
underground tombs that had been submerged in water for
centuries. In 1878, a Japanese vessel sank containing valuable
lacquer pieces on their way to a World's Fair. Nearly two years
later, the lacquer objects were found unharmed (Bedford,
1969:6-7). However, lacquer is usually applied to perishable
materials, such as wood, gourds or leather which eventually
decay and disappear (Abrams, 1984:20).
Chinese and Japanese lacquer processes are essentially the same.
The lacquer tree, Urushi-no-ki in Japanese (Kodansha
Encyclopedia, 1983:36) and Chi shu in Chinese (Chinese
Dictionary, 1981:531: Bedford, 1967:5), occurs in a wild state
and is cultivated in plantations in both countries. The process
to extract the resin from the tree is also similar. Lacquer's
unique characteristic is its need for a moist and temperate
atmosphere in order to dry. Warm dampness converts the sap into
a dense mass that hardens as enamel. Density and drying vary
with temperature, thickness and humidity (Abrams, 1984:12;
Bedford, 1969:6; Garner, 1979:15).
Before applying lacquer in the traditional way, the surface is
prepared by carefully filling all cracks with a mixture of rice
flour and Seshime. Seshime is the resin extracted from the young
branches of the Rhus verniciflua tree (Casals, 1961:13) and, to
give it the proper consistency, is mixed with rice-paste or with
the dust from the decayed wood of the keyaki or shii (S.
Cuspidata) tree or with volcanic ash, the compound is called
Kokuso (Casals, 1961:12). The object is then sanded until
completely smooth, (Yoshino, 1959:31-33; Abrams, 1984:36).
Another coat of seshime lacquer is applied to fill in all the
pores, followed by a coat of fine clay mixed with lacquer. From
ten to one hundred coats of this mixture are necessary before
the decoration process begins, and some styles may required as
many as 300 applications. Each coat is applied with a very fine
brush made of human hair. Each layer must be completely dry and
the object polished before the next coat is applied. Drying may
take from 2 days to 6 months depending on the climate, lacquer
thickness, type of decoration, and material on which the lacquer
is applied. Polishing is done with a whetstone, using powdered
vegetable carbons or burned deer-horn powder applied with a soft
cotton cloth slightly moistened with vegetable oil and rubbed on
the object with the thumb and palm of the hand. The above
process may be repeated as many as 60 or 70 times to achieve the
desired effect (Abrams, 1984:85; Yoshino, 1959:31; Casals,
Chinese and Japanese lacquer application techniques fall into
several categories: inlaying, carving, dry lacquer, incising,
painting, gold and silver decorations (such as Makie), and
bodiless lacquer that began in the 18th century in China. Each
category is subdivided into many styles, creating over one
The earliest Japanese and Chinese lacquer usually combined red
and black. Gradually other colors and decoration styles
developed using inlays of mother-of-pearl and other sea-shells,
pearls, woods, ivory, jade, turquoise and other semi-precious
stones, gold and silver powder sprayed over wet lacquer or
applied in sheets and threads.
The exact time of carved lacquer (tiao ch'i in Chinese) cannot
be precisely dated. It originated in China, probably in the late
T'ang dynasty some 1,200 years ago. The process begins by
applying several layers of thin colorless lacquer and as many
more of different colors. The design is outlined and carved to
expose the desired color underneath, and is burnished and
polished between each color exposed. The best known as uniquely
Chinese is t'i hong, red or Peking lacquer. All the lacquer
applications are cinnabar red and carved to expose the red
background which is carved with a different design (Abrams,
1984:36; Bedford, 1969:10).
Incised lacquer dates back, probably, to the late Sung dynasty
(960-1279) (Bedford, 1969:28). With a sharp pointed instrument,
a very fine line is incised into the several coats of lacquer;
the incised line is filled with lacquer of a contrasting color,
silver foil, or gold dust.
The Makie process, that in Japanese literally means sprinkled
picture, (von Ragué,1967:5; Yoshino, 1959:33; Abrams, 1984:73)
is a specific style of lacquering. It began in the Heian period
(710-1185), and continued through the Kamakura period
(1185-1333) when it reached the highest point of refinement and
popularity (Makie became representative of Japanese lacquer)
(Abrams, 1984:76-81; Yonemura, 1979:361; von Ragué, 1967:5). The
original Makie consisted of applying gold or silver dust on a
wet coat of lacquer, polishing it after it dried, and repeating
the process as many times as desired, sometimes substituting or
adding colored powders (Abrams, 1984:77; Yoshino, 1959:33-37).
Most of the different types of Makie use gold, of which the best
known is Hira-makie (flat makie). Silver and/or gold is
sprinkled on a design drawn on wet lacquer and after it dries
the surface is rubbed with absorbent cotton moist with lacquer,
it is then burnished with ashes. Togidashi-makie (burnished
makie) is a gold and silver design covered with layers of
usually black lacquer, and burnished until the design appear on
the surface. In Takamakie (relief makie, as its name indicates),
the design, which is modeled by applying layers of charcoal
powder, stands out from the surface; after lacquering, the
design is scoured and polished with cotton moistened with
lacquer. Other Makie styles consist of applying numerous layers
of lacquer over gold and/or silver dust or thin sheets; the
surface is then burnished with a whetstone and scoured with
ashes. All these styles were fundamental, very distinctive
Japanese techniques (Abrams, 1984:76-81; von Ragué, 1967:5;
The Chinese and Japanese applied lacquer to armor, helmets,
sword-cases, leather vests and shields. Armor for soldiers and
their horses were lacquered layers of leather that made them
practically impenetrable by swords or arrows (Abrams 1984:21;
Casals, 1961:8). With the introduction of Buddhism altars,
walls, and religious symbols and sculptures were lacquered. They
also lacquered cups, handles, plates, and other household
utensils, and to all sort of objects made of wood, bamboo, hemp
(Soku), paper, metal, and earthenware. During the Kofun period
(ca. 250-552) lacquer was used extensively on furniture, doors,
screens and even entire rooms. Emperor Yomei (586-587) issued an
order that taxes should be paid with raw lacquer. Many families
who had land planted the urushi-no-ki trees to produce the
necessary lac to pay their taxes (Yonemura, 1979:361; Yoshino,
MAQUE TECHNOLOGY IN MEXICO
Asian and Mexican lacquers have been compared with a great deal
of debate, one argument being that Mexican maque cannot be
considered the same as Asian lacquer since the sap of the lac
Rhus verniciflua tree is not used. Nevertheless--although Asia
and Mexico use different substances--the technology, process of
application and results are the same. Both lac and aje harden on
the object to which they are applied, water-proof it, are
impervious to acids and heat, and facilitate the same types of
decoration, and even similar designs are found in both cultures.
If the term Maque originate from the word Makie (sprinkled
picture.) Then, Maque, the name for lacquer process in west
Mexico, is of Japanese origin, and it applies to the full range
of processes and styles used in west Mexico. It is used in the
same way as the term "China" is used to denote all porcelain
MATERIALS AND PROCESS
Maque is a semi-liquid paste--formed with a mixture of animal
and vegetable oils, and natural refined clays--used, as lacquer
is, to waterproof and decorate the surfaces of various types of
The principal ingredient (animal) is the grease extracted from
the aje insect (Coccus laccá, or Coccus -axin). The aje insects
are purposely propagated by the P'urhépecha people of Michoacán,
who are today known as Tarascos, a name given them by the
Aje insects must be gathered alive during the rainy season and,
still alive, dropped into boiling water. (Insects death before
boiling are not useful). The aje is boiled until it releases a
hard waxy substance. When the water cools the substance floats
to the surface, is collected, washed, and is re-heated to remove
any water residues and to liquefy it for easy straining; when it
cools, like bars of butter, is stored wrapped in corn husks
(Sepúlveda, 1978:43; Zuno, 1952:40).
Traditionally, insects were collected in May and June, wrapped
in corn husks along with some tassels for their nourishment, and
stored in a safe place where other insects would not disturb
them. In November and December, the husks were opened inside
white loose-weave cotton bags, and attached to selected trees
(Sepúlveda, 1978:43; Zuno, 1952:152) such as cherry, acacia
trees (spondias), pine-nuts, (Jathropha curcas) and Amate and in
the enphobiacea plants (Aleurites laccifera triloba) (Jett,
1993:33),. The insects crawled out of the bags to find a place
to lodge on the woody crevices of the tree-bark, and were
harvested the following year (Sepúlveda, 1978:43; Zuno,
The second ingredient (vegetable), Chía oil, is extracted from
the seeds of a native sage plant Salvia chian, (imptis-spicata),
an annual of the labiada family native of Mexico. The Aztecs
cultivated the plant for its medicinal properties; to prepare a
refreshing beverage; and to extract the oil. Chia oil has a high
glyceric content that quickly absorbs oxygen from the air, and
forms an elastic hard surface with drying properties, it serves
to thin the aje mixture. Chía oil is the base for maque in
Chiapas and Guerrero where there is no aje (de Paul León,
1922:23; Sepúlveda, 1978:44).
The Chia oil is extracted by slowly roasting the seeds on a flat
metal or clay dish on a low fire until they are uniformly light
brown, or the seeds begin to pop open. When cool, the seeds are
ground in a hand-mill or on a stone pestle. Hot water is added
to the fine flour to form a mushy paste, which, when cool, is
kneaded for about an hour or until the oil begins to drip. The
paste is wrapped in a cloth and twisted to wring out the oil.
Finally, the oil is boiled to preserve it until it is needed
The third ingredient (mineral), fine dolomite powder, is added
to the aje and chia oil to give it the necessary consistency.
Dolomite--called Teputzuta in P'urhépecha -- and other similar
mineral clays used as colorants give body to the maque mixture.
The Maque process in Michoacán follows the Chinese and Japanese
prototype. Amerindians seem to have reinterpreted the technology
and adapted it to regional climatic conditions and materials.
Preparation of the surface is identical as in China and
Japan--that is, any cracks are filled with a mixture called
Nimácata (equivalent to Japanese Kokuso), a mixture of dolomite
powder and Chía oil (Zuno, 1952:153). The object is sanded until
completely smooth and as many coats of nimácata are applied as
necessary and drying and sanded in between applications until
all pores are filled and all imperfections eliminated
(Sepúlveda, 1978). The earliest technique used in Michoacán was
similar to Japanese Makie--that is, powdered colored clays were
sprayed onto wet nimácata. It was then polished with a
whetstone, and scoured with ashes of burned animal bones or from
burned olote (corn cob). Other than the makie style, other
techniques included incising (termed rayado or embutido) and
Colors initially used in pre-Hispanic Michoacán were red and
black as in early Chinese and Japanese lacquer ware. Black was
obtained from the fine powder of burned animal bones or from
burned corn cob. Other colors were later introduced such, as
blue, yellow and green. Colors are also extracted from plants
and insects. Vermilion was achieved by combining sulfur and
Magenta, purple, and scarlet, were extracted from cochineal eggs
(Sepúlveda, 1978:44). To extract the color from cochineal, the
insects are cooked in vapor and dried in the sun before being
ground to a fine powder. The purpura and red colors obtained
from the cochineal were associated with fire and the sun and
were considered to posses magic and spiritual values (Fernández,
Ortíz, Torrens, 1989:7; Jett, 1993:33).
Yellow was extracted by boiling a piece of zacapele wood; the
resulting tincture was mixed with clays of other colors for
different color combination. Sahagún wrote in his chronicles
that dry, finely ground colorants in red, scarlet, ocher, and
green, and also a yellow paste called Tzictli, obtained in
creeks near Tula, were sold in the market of Tlatelolco (then,
near Mexico city) and were used to color maque.
Blue, (añil) or indigo, was obtained from a plant. Blue from
natural colorants is difficult to produce in maque or lacquer.
Properties in lac and aje affect colors and therefore the use of
color is limited. The Japanese obtained a variety of color
shades by adding lead oxide (litharge) to the oil obtained from
the seeds of the Perilla frutescens Brit. the mixture was boiled
before adding the pigment and then added to the lacquer. The
same results were achieved in maque by adding alum (Yonemura,
1959:30; Sepúlveda, 1978).
DECORATIVE MAQUE TECHNIQUES
Rayado (incising), is a traditional technique used in maque
centers in today's states of Michoacán, Guerrero, and Chiapas.
Early Mexican techniques of applying colors and decorations were
the same as in China and Japan. The design is carved using the
point of a sharp cactus needle inserted in a turkey quill some
other large bird, (in the fashion of ancient ink writing pen).
The soft plume of the feather is used to brush off the excess
clay or maque that is carved off (Sepúlveda, 1978). The fine
incised lines are filled with contrasting colored maque--one
color at a time-- drying, scouring and polishing after each
Carving in Michoacán is somewhat different than the Chinese
carved lacquer. Each part of the design of the same color--such
as flower's petals--is carved from the several coats of a maque
and the cavities filled with the desired color. One color at a
time--drying, scouring and polishing after each. The process is
an early style in Michoacán, used first in ceramics that have
been termed pseudo-cloisonne, an ancient Chinese traditional
technique of filling design cavities with various materials,
including enamels on a metal base. (Fig.8)
Incrustado (inlaying) in maque ware used turquoise stones, and
perhaps coral, mother-of-pearl, and gold, copper, or silver. No
samples of maque ware have survived to indicate that other
materials were used in incrustation, but that technique has
existed for centuries in west Mexico.
Sculpting in Michoacán with dry lacquer, a process which
originated in China during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-221 A.D.),
is similar to the Japanese process which dates from the Nara
period (710-784). In the latter, a rough form was made in clay,
sun-dried, and covered with a paste composed of seshime and dry
crushed tree bark, fibers, leaves, and slime from decomposed
leaves (Bedford, 1969:15; Abrams, 1984:73), then covered with
numerous layers of seshime interlined with strips of
fabric--hemp, silk, linen--or paper. Once the frame was formed
and dried, the base material was removed, and the sculpture
lacquered and decorated. In the Michoacán process, the sculpture
was formed from the pulp of the corn plant's stem, mixed with a
glue extracted from the bulb of a native orchid and the slimy
juice of the nopal (cactus). Several layers of nimácata and base
coats of maque were applied, then decorated with colored maque
or painted (El Quehacer de un Pueblo, 1990:163)(Fig.9)
Painting designs on maque ware --Urushi-e in Japanese and hua
ch'i in Chinese--began in China around the time of the Han
Dynasty (206 B.C.-221 A.D.). There are two types of painting:
painting with lacquer, in which the design is painted on a
lacquer background with colored lacquer, and painting on lacquer
with oils, using oil paint over a surface treated with several
layers of lacquer, with additional layers of lacquer over the
painted design (Bedford, 1969:15-16). Michoacán painting style
differs only (perhaps a trend of recent years) in that the
painted design is not covered with additional coats of maque.
Michoacán's maque designs were simple natural themes taken from
flora and fauna--frogs, deer, birds, flowers and scrolls. At
first the variety of objects decorated with maque was not
extensive. Wood objects, hard-shell gourds (Legenaria ciseraria)
and various hard-shell fruits of the calabash family (Cucurbita
maxima) (Sepúlveda, 1978:4).
USES OF MAQUE WARE
La Relación de las ceremonias y ritos y gobierno de los indios
de la provincia de Mechuacan, a historic document of the
P'urhépecha, mentions that the high priest and the P'urhépecha
chief, Tariákuri, carried a lacquered gourd as a symbol of
nobility. A lacquered gourd was given to a person appointed to a
high position, as a symbol of authority. The custom of
P'urhépecha society was to pay tribute to their lords with seeds
and grain contained in lacquered gourds and calabash bowls,
(jícaras). Documented in the chronicles, Relaciones Geográficas
del Siglo XVI, (Geographic Relations of the 16th Century) is
that the P'urhépecha made canoes of hallowed tree trunks and
were lacquered to make them water proof (Sepúlveda, 1978:8).
With the introduction of catholicism by the Spanish maque
objects became popular and in high demand. The type of objects
decorated with maque expanded to pulpits, altars; to furniture,
mirrors, statues of saints, and many other ornamental and
A FINAL NOTE
Lacquer technology is not the only Asian cultural similarity
found in west Mexico. There is an extensive pre-Columbian
cultural complex in Mexico, and at various points along the
Pacific coast of the American continent where extraordinary
Asian similarities are found that must be recognized as evidence
of early contacts, whether by accident, commerce, or migration.
In Michoacán maque was a controlled craft supervised and
directed by an appointed person called the uráni-atári, (La
Relación, 1541) while in Japan the term urúshibe was used to
described lacquer-ware craftsmen (Casals, 1961:7; von Ragué,
1967:5). Similarities in vocabulary should be noted:
Mexican/Japanese maque/makie, uráni--urúshibe--Uruapan (the last
is the name of the al town that has produced maque ware long
before the Spanish invasion of Mexico), and of Ch'í-Ch'í (the
Chinese word for lacquer) to chía oil.
If the Japanese Makie, sprinkled lacquer style, dates from the
Heian period (794-1185), the first maque technique used in
Michoacán where the name was adopted to describe the technology,
it indicates Japanese contact with Mexico about the 8th century.
The introduction of Chinese carving and incising styles may also
have been introduced by the Japanese who adopted the lacquer
technology from China. Whether lacquer, maque, ch'í-ch'í, or
urushi, the technology made a trans-Pacific, pre-Columbian
journey along with many other cultural traits, beliefs, and
technologies, that were reinterpreted and adapted to their
cultural needs by the people of Michoacán.
Abrams, Harry N. Lacquer: An International History and
Illustrated Survey. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1984.
Bedford, John. Chinese and Japanese Lacquer. New York: Walker
and Company Inc., 1969.
Beijing Conservatory of Foreign Language, English Department. A
Chinese-English Dictionary. Beijing: Commercial Affairs Book
Casals, U.A. Japanese Art Lacquers. Tokyo: Sophia University,
de Paul León, Francisco. Los Esmaltes de Uruapan. Ed. of
manuscript dated in 1922, Morelia, Innovación, Mexico, 1984.
El Quehacer de un Pueblo. Casa de las artesanías. Impresos
Gráficos Lira, Morelia, 1990.
Fernandez, E., Ortíz, J.C., Torrens O. Purpura. Chiapas:
Instituto Chiapaneco de Cultura, 1989.
Garner, Sir Harry. Chinese Lacquer. London/Boston: Faber and
Hayashi, Yasaka "Lacquer Tree," Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan,
Vol.4, 1983, p. 360.
Jett, Stephen C. "Dyestuffs and Possible Early Contacts Between
Southwestern Asia and Nuclear America," NEARA Journal, Volume
XXV. No 1 & 2, Summer/Fall 1993.
La Relación de las Ceremonias y ritos y población y gobierno de
los indios de la provincia de Mechuacan, Mexico, 1541.
Murra, John V. Paper presented in Mexico at the Quincentenary
symposium. Seeds of Industry, Smithsonian Institution, 1990.
Ragué, Beatrix von. A History of Japanese Lacquerwork.
Toronto/Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1967.
Sepúlveda, Maria Teresa. Maque. Instituto Nacional de
Antropología e Historia, SEP, Sección de Etnografía, Mexico,
Sahagún, Bernardino. Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva
España, [General History of the Things of New Spain], 4th ed.
Editorial Porrua, S.A., 1544/1979.
Yonemura, Ann. "Japanese Lacquer," Kodansha Encyclopaedia of
Japan, Vol.4, 1979, p.361.
Yoshino, Tomio. Japanese Lacquer Ware. Tokyo: Japan Travel
Bureau/Toppan Printing Co., 1959.
Zuno, José Guadalupe. "Las llamadas lacas Michoacánas de Uruapan
no proceden de las Orientales," Cuadernos Americanos, 11 (3),
1952, pp. 145-65.
The first ch'i means 'lacquer'; the second, 'object', changing
only in pronunciation (qi 'lacquer, paint'; qi-qi 'lacquer-ware,
lacquerwork, bodiless lacquer' (A Chinese-English Dictionary;
Olaf Holm, cit.; Maria Rostworoski, "Mercaderes del valle de
Chincha, " Revista Española de Antropologia Americana, Vol. 5,
1970, Madrid; José Alcina French, et. al., Navigacion
precolumbina: Evidencias e hipotesis," Revista Española de
Antropologia Americana, Vol. XVII, pp. 35-73, 1987, Madrid; John
V. Murra, The Economic Organization of the Inka State ,
1980, ch. VII; Olivia Harris, B. Larson, and E. Tandeter, La
participacion indigena en los mercados surandinos, La Paz,
Bolivia, 1987; J. V. Murra, "An Archaeological Re-study of an
Andean Ethnohistorical Account," American Antiquity, Vol. 28,
P'urhépecha - the people who migrated to Michoacán, called
Tarascos by the Spanish at the time of their invasion of Mexico,
and known as such today. However, modern Tarascos prefer to be
called P'urhépecha. Their ethic name is not known, Linguist Mary
LeCron Foster analyzed P'urhépecha as meaning 'wanderers' or
'those who are transplanted'; p'oré means 'to visit', with the
suffix -pe meaning 'interaction' or 'change'; -cha is the plural
suffix. (In Gilberti's Diccionary, P'urhépecha means
La Relación de las Ceremonias y ritos y población y gobierno de
los indios de la provincia de Mechuacan, Mexico, 1541, 143
pages, 44 illustrations; narrated to Spanish monks Fr. Martín de
la Coruña and Fr. Gerónimo de Alcalá by P'urhépecha elders of
the council of Tzintzuntzan, the capital of the province of
Michoacán at the time of the conquest. The original is in the
Museum and Library of the Escorial in Madrid, Spain, and a copy
of the original is in the Library of Congress in Washington,
D.C., in Editor Peter Force's collection of papers.