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The Friar and the Maya

Diego de Landa and the Account of the Things of Yucatan

by Matthew Restall, Amara Solari, John F. Chuchiak IV, & Traci Ardren

Paperback Price $24.95
Ebook Price $20.95
30-day ebook rental price $10.50

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“This book catapults the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and history into the twenty-first century. The authors bring a sophisticated and nuanced approach to early colonial Spanish writings. They apply their comprehensive knowledge of archival records—gleaned over decades of research—to this iconic and heavily cited account of sixteenth-century Yucatec Maya peoples. This book is a singular work that will be the definitive edition to read and cite for the next fifty years.”
—Patricia McAnany, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“A touchstone of Maya research with unquestionable importance, this book will have a resounding impact on the field for years to come.”
—John F. Schwaller, University of Albany


The Friar and the Maya offers a full study and new translation of the Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán (Account of the Things of Yucatan) by a unique set of eminent scholars, created by them over more than a decade from the original manuscript held by the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid. This critical and careful reading of the Account is long overdue in Maya studies and will forever change how this seminal text is understood and used.
For generations, scholars used (and misused) the Account as the sole eyewitness insight into an ancient civilization. It is credited to the sixteenth-century Spanish Franciscan, monastic inquisitor, and bishop Diego de Landa, whose legacy is complex and contested. His extensive writings on Maya culture and history were lost in the seventeenth century, save for the fragment that is the Account, discovered in the nineteenth century, and accorded near-biblical status in the twentieth as the first “ethnography” of the Maya. However, the Account is not authored by Landa alone; it is a compilation of excerpts, many from writings by other Spaniards—a significant revelation made here for the first time.
This new translation accurately reflects the style and vocabulary of the original manuscript. It is augmented by a monograph—comprising an introductory chapter, seven essays, and hundreds of notes—that describes, explains, and analyzes the life and times of Diego de Landa, the Account, and the role it has played in the development of modern Maya studies. The Friar and the Maya is an innovative presentation on an important and previously misunderstood primary source.

The Anxious Bench, Patheos

Matthew Restall is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Anthropology and director of Latin American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. A past president of the American Society for Ethnohistory, he is former editor of Ethnohistory and the Hispanic American Historical Review. He has written some hundred articles and essays and two dozen books on Latin American history, including When Montezuma Met Cortés and Return to Ixil.

Amara Solari is professor of art history and anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University. Her three monographs are Maya-Christian Murals of Early Modern Yucatan; Idolizing Mary: Maya-Catholic Icons in Yucatán; and Maya Ideologies of the Sacred. Her coauthored books include The Maya Apocalypse and Its Western Roots. She is former editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review, and her articles have appeared in various journals, including The Art Bulletin and Ethnohistory.

John F. Chuchiak IV is Distinguished Professor of Colonial Latin American History, the Rich and Doris Young Honors College Endowed Professor, dean and director of the Honors College and Global Studies Program, and the director of the Latin American, Caribbean, and Hispanic Studies Program at Missouri State University. His numerous articles, essays, and books include El castigo y la reprensión (on the extirpation of idolatry in Yucatan) and The Inquisition in New Spain, 1536–1820.

Traci Ardren is professor of anthropology at the University of Miami. She has conducted archaeological research at the ancient Maya city of Yaxuna and other cities of Yucatan for over thirty years. She is the author of Everyday Life in the Classic Maya World and Social Identities in the Classic Maya Northern Lowlands and coeditor of The Social Experience of Childhood in Ancient Mesoamerica and The Maya World.

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  • Paperback Price: $24.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-64642-504-4
  • Ebook Price: $20.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $10.50
  • EISBN: 978-1-64642-424-5
  • Publication Month: December
  • Publication Year: 2023
  • Pages: 410
  • Illustrations: 76
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Matthew Restall, Amara Solari, John F. Chuchiak IV, & Traci Ardren
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-64642-504-4
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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