Rolena Adorno - Guaman Poma - Nueva corónica y buen gobierno First published on this website 13 March 2002
© Rolena Adorno 2002
A Witness unto Itself: The Integrity of the Autograph Manuscript of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala’s El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (1615/1616)


Rolena Adorno, Ph.D.

Professor of Latin American Literature in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese
at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut


Table of contents:



Preliminary Remarks

The Online Facsimile Edition and Manuscript Analysis
(1) Guaman Poma’s pagination
(2) Actual pagination
Bottom-fold Sheets and Truncated Texts

1. Summary of the Royal Library’s Codicological Examination of the Manuscript

1.1. Sheets and Quires  
1.1.1. General Patterns
             1.1.2. Special Features
1.2. Watermarks

2. The Nueva corónica y buen gobierno in the Royal Library

2.1. Classification
2.2. “(Re)discovery” and Provenance
2.3. Misarranged Quires

            Table 1:  Catalog of Misordered Quires, Restored to their Correct Sequence in 1927

2.4. Binding Activities
2.5. The Paris Facsimile Edition: No Universal Retracing
             2.5.1. “Painting Out Bleedthroughs”
             2.5.2. China Paper Applications   

3.  The Author’s Biography and His Composition of the Work 

3.1. New Biographical Information about Guaman Poma
3.2. Period of Composition of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno

3.3. Guaman Poma’s Overall Plan

              Table 2: Quires and Chapters of the
Nueva corónica y buen gobierno
3.4. Textual Composition
3.5.  The “Tabla de la dicha corónica”

3.6.  Textual “Completion”
3.7. Repaginating Four Chapters to Compensate for a Previous Error     

4. Final Renderings: The Coordination of Codicological and Textual Evidence

4.1. Guaman Poma’s Additions to the Completed Manuscript  
               Table 3: Summary of Textual Emendations and Sheets Added to, and Excised from, the Primary Quire Structure

               Table 4: Sheets Added to the Completed Manuscript  
4.2. Guaman Poma’s Late Introduction of Quires 22 and 23, “Camina el autor”
A Sheet Cut Out and Replaced:  Montesclaros’s Governance and the Buen gobierno 
                4.3.1. The Role of the Viceroy
                4.3.2. Guaman Poma’s Marqués de Montesclaros: Exemplary and Present Viceroy
4.4. Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna: Luz de materias de Indias (GkS 589, 2°)
4.5. The Central Role of Chapter 20
4.6. The Author and Artist as His Own Scribe
4.7. Sealing the Text, Closing the Book: Frontispiece Calculations
4.8. The “First of the New Chronicles“


Works cited




Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, the author and artist of El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (completed 1615, emended 1616), was a person of unlimited aspirations. He expressed the hope that his 1200-page chronicle would be placed “in the archive” as a testimony to past events and a guide to the pursuit of justice. He specified that it should be preserved “in the archive of heaven as of the world,” that is, in Rome, at the head of Christiandom, and in Castile, headquarters of all earthly power. His more immediate hope had been for its publication, that is, that Spain’s king Philip III would serve as his patron and have the work printed “to make immortal the memory and name of the great ancient lords” of Peru. Guaman Poma’s exuberant work with its many purposes would not be published for three hundred years, and, after many print editions (Paris, Oruro, Bolivia, Mexico City, Caracas, Madrid, Lima), its truly global reach would not be achieved until the new millenium: the 2001 digitization of his autograph manuscript by the Royal Library of Copenhagen.

The digitized edition of Guaman Poma’s Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript (GkS 2232 4º) is one of the marvels of the Internet era. Its freshness and immediacy carry new readers eagerly through its portal. Its complete accessibility draws its most veteran students and scholars to renewed inquiries and new questions. In this light, and as a complement to the digitization project, I planned to update my 1977 review of the autograph manuscript, which appeared in the 1979-80 volume of Fund og Forskning and has now been placed in facsimile on this website. Thanks, however, to being invited to participate in preparing the Royal Library’s 2001-2002 codicological survey of the Guaman Poma codex (see summary in Section 1, below), I have been able to entertain new questions and not simply modify previous understandings. My aim herein is to coordinate the physical characteristics of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript with its contents, that is, to integrate Guaman Poma’s vision of Peru’s ancient past, its precarious present, and uncertain future with his construction and emendation of the manuscript that conveys it.

This articulation of codicological and textual evidence has yielded several major results. First, it foregrounds and reinforces the character of Guaman Poma’s authorship as the enterprise, single-minded in purpose and execution, of a sole individual. Although I set forth this hypothesis in my earlier bibliographic investigation of the manuscript (Adorno 1979-80, 17, 27, note 8), the present coordination of codicological and textual evidence reveals systematically how the work was created, corrected, augmented, and updated, and that it was done by his hand alone. Second, this coordination of material and textual evidence reveals for the first time how Guaman Poma handled the scarcity of material resources during the final stages of his work and how he dealt with the competing priorities of informational accuracy and graphic design. Third, in relation to the three great divisions of the work (the Nueva corónica of ancient Andean history,  the “Conquista” account of the Spanish conquest, and the Buen gobierno treatise on colonial reform), the dual, codicological/textual analysis makes evident the growing importance that Guaman Poma attached to the Buen gobierno. In particular, it reveals the importance of its inaugural chapter and the strategic, historical role that Guaman Poma assigned to the viceroy Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna, the marquis of Montesclaros, the eleventh viceroy of Peru (1607-1615). This result allows us to reemphasize Guaman Poma’s ultimate realization of his work as a treatise on “good government,” as one among many privately authored arbitrios written on Spanish imperial reform.

This inquiry is divided into four sections. Because of the cumulative nature of the analysis, I have provided cross-references among its four parts, which are summarized as follows:

1. Summary of the Royal Library’s Codicological Examination of the Manuscript
I survey here the new findings regarding the autograph manuscript’s quires, watermarks, and other physical characteristics.

2. The Nueva corónica y buen gobierno in the Royal Library 
In this section I examine the history of the manuscript in the Royal Library, including its classification in the Old Royal Collection, its “rediscovery” and provenence, and its facsimile reproduction by the Institut d’Ethnologie in Paris with the help of the Royal Library. This discussion sets a new date for the Royal Library’s acquisition of the manuscript. It also reexamines the character and quality of the Paris facsimile edition by which Guaman Poma’s work was most well known from 1936 until the appearance in 1980 of the Murra/Adorno and Pease editions of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno.

3. The Author’s Biography and His Composition of the Work
Here I take a fresh look at the recent gains in information about Guaman Poma’s life and the genesis of his work. I also reexamine the process of its composition and first “completion” as based on codicological evidence.

4. Final Renderings: The Coordination of Codicological and Textual Evidence
Scrutinizing the final emendations that Guaman Poma made to his manuscript, I explore in this section the necessarily close relationship between the codicological evidence of the manuscript and Guaman Poma’s conceptual formulation and redaction of his work. In particular, I test the capacity of the new codicological data to reveal or support the textual evidence of Guaman Poma’s growing concerns as he reached the end of his project and closed his book for the last time. The results of this analysis modify the familiar profile of the utopian-minded Andean who would make his son the “prince of the Indies” and reveal instead the hard-headed, well informed advocate of comprehensive administrative reform aimed at relieving the crushing labor and tribute demands on the native population.

Studying the successive modifications of the physical manuscript in light of its textual contents transforms the static artifact into a living testimony. It is for this reason that I have described Guaman Poma’s book as a “witness unto itself.”


Preliminary Remarks: 

The Online Facsimile Edition and Manuscript Analysis
Along with the Royal Library’s codicological survey of the manuscript, my source for the present analysis was the digital facsimile. Its extraordinarily high quality makes its consultation a necessary complement to this essay as well as the appropriate source for any future manuscript analysis of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno. The digital edition renders visible many details of Guaman Poma’s graphic and prose texts that otherwise would go unnoticed, and it has proved to be indispensible in deciphering Guaman Poma’s occasional layers of superimposed writing.

The example of the work’s title on the portada or frontispiece makes the point. Not visible in any print facsimile but perceptible in the digital edition is the manuscript’s earlier title, El primero i nueva corónica i buen gobierno. The online viewer can see that the “o” of “primero” and the conjunction “i” were suppressed when Guaman Poma introduced, in black ink, decorative motifs that obscure them (see illustration). His corrected, final title, El primer nueva corónica i buen gobierno, is more concise. (I consider the meaning of this modification in section 4.8, below.)

Only in the rarest instances are the images on the web inadequate for deciphering the text. The most perplexing case is the series of sequential calculations regarding the length of his work that Guaman Poma entered on the frontispiece. Here the digital reproductions on the web are best supplemented by enlarged images of details. See Section 4.7 for this series of calculations and the analysis of their sequence.

(1) Guaman Poma’s pagination:  Guaman Poma numbered the pages of his manuscript, beginning unconventionally by placing the number one on a verso page (the back side of the frontispiece). He made certain errors by inadvertently repeating sequences of numbers (154-155, 523-532) and others, by producing five-digit numbers when he composed or corrected numbers in the 1000 and 1100 ranges (see “Pagination Survey of Copenhagen, Royal Library, GkS 2232 4to” on this website and Section 4.6, below). 

(2) Actual pagination: The designation “actual” refers to the sequential correction of his pagination as created for the 1980 Murra/Adorno edition of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno and reproduced in the Royal Library’s online facsimile. It starts from Guaman Poma’s unconventional beginning that designates the verso of the frontispiece as page one, and it is the pagination used in this essay.

Guaman Poma divided his work into chapters but he did not number them. His “Tabla de la dicha corónica” (“Table [of contents] of the said chronicle”) diverges from the body of the text insofar as the “Tabla” fails to list certain chapters or sections of chapters and reorganizes the presentation of others into a different format (see Section 3.5, below). The chapter references I cite below refer to the numbered, descriptive chapter titles that John Charles and I created as a bilingual, Spanish-English “Tabla de contenidos/Table of contents” for the online edition. It is more complete than any previous list of contents, including the “Índice general” that John V. Murra and I prepared for the 1980 Siglo XXI edition. Throughout this essay I cite Guaman Poma’s “Tabla de la dicha corónica” by his own Spanish-language designation, usually shortening it to “Tabla.” I use “table of contents” in English to refer to the online edition’s Charles/Adorno chapter list.

The basic term, a “(single) sheet,” is a unit of paper producing two pages, recto and verso, as they appear in the bound codex.

When discussing the physical make-up of the manuscript book, the following distinctions are made:

(1)   A “(regular) double sheet” is a unit of paper producing four pages. Approximately ninety-six per cent of the codex is made up of such double sheets. In one case, a regular double sheet is not integrated into the quire but has been attached or grafted onto it.

(2)   A “single sheet with flap” is a unit of paper producing two pages. The flap is a narrow extension, folded over onto the sheet, that runs its full vertical length and makes possible the secure appending of the sheet to the quire, either by pasting or stitching.

(3)   Such “single sheets with flap” may appear in pairs, pasted together all along the flaps and resulting in what I call “composite (pasted) double sheets.” Three quires, totaling approximately three per cent of the codex’s bulk, are made up entirely of such composite (pasted) double sheets.

(4)   Besides being organized and pasted in pairs, “single sheets with flap” may appear in unpasted pairs, functioning as “composite (unpasted) double sheets” (two cases), or alone. In the latter instance, the sole “single sheet with flap” is either exceptionally grafted onto and later integrated into the quire structure (one case) or simply grafted onto the completed quire (three cases). See Section 1.1 and Table 4, below.

Bottom-fold Sheets and Truncated Texts:
The three sides of the book block have been cut evenly in preparation for binding. Although a great many page numbers at the top of the book block have been truncated by this procedure, care was taken to avoid removing from the bottom of the book block the lines of text that occasionally extend deep into the page beyond Guaman Poma’s customary lower margin. These portions of text were preserved by making a vertical scissors-cut in the sheet along the gutter of the book and folding this bottom portion of the sheet back up onto itself. Thus the book block could be cut without risking the excision of valuable text. Some pages were inevitably overlooked in this process, and the cutting of the book block resulted in the truncation of some sheets’ textual contents. Actual page 43 provides an example of a truncated text; actual page 420, an instance of the successfully executed bottom-fold sheet.

It is apparent that the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno codex has been subjected to a variety of binding procedures. Physical evidence in the book points to at least four binding operations during the nearly four hundred years of the codex's existence (see Section 2.4, below). In connection with these binding activities, certain elements were assembled incorrectly, and other elements that previously had been tucked loosely into the manuscript were secured more effectively, either by pasting (three cases: actual pages 466-467, 978-981, 1188-1189), by stitching (two cases: actual pages 474-475 and 1104-1139 [
“Camina el autor”]), or by pasting and stitching (one case: actual pages 1066-1067). 

We can be assured, however, that all the elements are today located in their intended place in the manuscript. This is due to the fact that Guaman Poma gave all possible cues to their proper sequential arrangement at every stage of his work. In this fortunate situation, the understanding of the process of Guaman Poma’s redaction and emendation of his work is not dependent on knowing whether a particular stitching or pasting was done by him or by subsequent binders who have successfully accomplished his intentions.


1. Summary of the Royal Library’s Codicological Examination of the Manuscript

The manuscript consists of twenty-six quires plus an additional single sheet, and the paper used by Guaman Poma exhibits three variants of the Latin Cross watermark described by Briquet (vol. 1, pp. 332 ff. [not vol. III, p. 332, as reported in Adorno 1979-80, 26, note 3]). I summarize below the results of this investigation (see “Codicological Survey of Copenhagen, Royal Library, GkS 2232 4to - Quires, Sheets, and Watermarks” on this website).

1.1. Sheets and Quires

1.1.1. General Patterns
Twice-folded sheets, each yielding four quarto sheets or eight pages, were used to make up the majority of the quires. There are “large” and “small” quires: quires 1 through 20, and quires 21 through 26, respectively.

The “large” quires are uniformly made up of regular double sheets, with insertions of additional sheets in two quires only (quire 13, actual pages 636-637, 646-647; quire 18, actual pages 904-905, 958-959). With one exception, the first twenty “large” quires ascend in size from twelve to fifteen double sheets in the following manner: Quires 1 through 4 consist of twelve double sheets; quires 5 through 12, thirteen double sheets; quires 14 through 16, fourteen double sheets; quires 17 through 20, fifteen double sheets. Only quire 13 consists of sixteen double sheets. The evidence suggests that quire 13, originally made up of fifteen double sheets, was expanded by incorporating two single sheets with flaps, that is, a composite double sheet  (whose two halves had not been pasted together), which was introduced prior to its use for writing as the fourteenth double sheet of the quire, that is, actual manuscript pages 636-637 and 646-647.

Of the “small” quires, three are made up of double sheets and three are constituted by single sheets with flaps, that is, composite double sheets pasted together prior to being assembled into quires and used for writing. Quires 22, 23, and 24 are made up of regular double sheets, and quires 21, 25, and 26 are made up exclusively of composite double sheets. Quire 21 consists of four composite double sheets; quire 22, seven double sheets; quire 23, two double sheets; quire 24, six double sheets; quire 25, four composite double sheets; and quire 26, two composite double sheets.

1.1.2. Special Features
As mentioned above, there are two instances of composite double sheets appearing in quires that otherwise consist of regular double sheets: the composite double sheet (number fourteen) in quire 13 (actual pages 636-637 and 646-647) and the composite double sheet (number two) in quire 18 (pages 904-905 and 958-959).  

In the entire manuscript there are only seven additions to the primary quire structure, which is the arrangement of the quires as laid out by the author before he began writing. (See Section 4.1, below, for the interpretation of these instances).  

Two of these seven additions can be described as compatible with the primary quire structure insofar as they appear to have been introduced in the course of writing. Consisting of two composite double sheets, these additions are, respectively, actual pages 636-637 and 646-647; and 904-905 and 958-959.

Four other additions are incompatible with the primary quire structure inasmuch as they appear to have been attached or “grafted” onto the already existing and “closed” quires. Not counting the still later addition of the full “Camina el autor” chapter (to be discussed below, Section 4.2), these four “late” additions consist of: (1) a single sheet with flap (actual pages 466-467), pasted in between two pages; (2) another single sheet with flap (actual pages 474-475), stitched into the first half of the quire and probably replacing a single sheet cut out of the quire at the same place; (3) a regular double sheet (actual pages 978-981), pasted in between two pages; and, finally, (4) a single sheet (actual pages 1188-1189), that is found pasted onto the last page of quire 26.

The one remaining addition is both compatible and incompatible with the primary quire structure. That is, the sheet constituting actual pages 1066-1067 was tucked loosely into the already paginated and sewn quire; it bears no page numbers and no catchwords and, beyond that, the wet ink of page 1068 had blotted onto page 1065, revealing the post-sewing addition of the sheet. At the same time, the flap of this single sheet appears in the other half of the quire, indicating that it was integrated into the quire, even though the quire had been previously sewn.

Put another way, these seven belated sheet additions consist of introducing regular or composite double sheets on three occasions (actual pages 978-981 and 636-637/646-647, 904-905/958-959, respectively) and a single sheet in four instances (actual pages 466-467, 474-475, 1066-1067,1188-1189). As they appear today, two of these single sheets, actual pages 466-467 and 1188-1189, have been added to the quires by pasting their narrow flap to the preceding page and applying a thin line of paste at the inner edge of the single sheet to make it adhere to the following page with maximum stability. One has been added by stitching and pasting (actual pages 1066-1067), another, by stitching alone (actual pages 474-475).  

In relation to the single sheet stitched into quire 10 (actual pages 474-475), there are two “flaps” that appear between actual pages 473 and 474. The first flap, immediately following page 473, is much narrower than the second, which precedes page 474. The first flap can be identified as belonging to the regular double sheet (number eleven of quire 10), now consisting only of this very flap and the sheet occupied by pages 484-485. The second flap belongs to the sheet used for pages 474-475. Apparently, this was originally a regular double sheet, because its carelessly cut, uneven edge does not resemble the more evenly cut edges of the single sheets that had been cut with great care in preparation for their assembly into, and use as, composite double sheets. While the stitching into quire 10 of the single sheet that became pages 474-475 undoubtedly corresponded to the author’s wishes, it is not possible to determine when that stitched insertion was made. 

See Sections 4.1 and 4.3, below, for my discussion of the contents of these additions.

1.2. Watermarks
Watermarks appear in the inner fold of half the total number of sheets. That is, each unfolded sheet used by Guaman Poma bore a single watermark, located in the middle of one half of the sheet. When the sheet was folded twice to form two, quarto-size double sheets, one of these double sheets appeared with no watermark. The other double sheet exhibited the watermark in its fold, with the result that half a watermark would be visible in each of the two sheets of that folded double sheet. In the bound book, these half-watermarks can be seen in the two sheets pertaining to every second double sheet, approximately.

There are three variants of a single watermark type, the Latin Cross. The most common watermark, Latin Cross over GM (which is not unlike Briquet 1968, *5692), is found throughout eleven “large” quires, exclusive of the later additions of sheets made to these quires after they were “closed.” The relevant units are quires 5-12 (of thirteen double sheets each) and 18-20 (fifteen double sheets each, with the exceptionally added composite double, double, and single sheets, respectively, as noted above [Section 1.1.2]).

The second most common watermark, Latin Cross over AA (not represented in Briquet 1968), is found throughout quires 1 through 4 (twelve double sheets each), as well as in the “small” quire 24 (consisting of six double sheets) and in one of the single sheet insertions (actual pages 474-475) in quire 10.

The two most common watermarks (Latin Cross over GM and Latin Cross over AA) both appear in “large” quires 13 through 17 (of sixteen, fourteen, fourteen, fourteen, and fifteen double sheets, respectively), with the exception of the composite double sheet (sheet fourteen), in quire 13, which is composed of two single sheets with flaps (actual pages 636-637, 646-647). These two most common watermarks are also found in “small” quires 21 and 25 (each consisting of four sets of single sheets with flaps, or composite double sheets).

The third watermark, Latin Cross over IA (not unlike Briquet 1968, 5693), is found throughout “small” quires 22 and 23 (seven double sheets and two double sheets, respectively, corresponding to the “Camina el autor” chapter) and on the other single sheet insertion in quire 10 (actual pages 466-467).


2. The Nueva corónica y buen gobierno in the Royal Library

2.1. Classification
As Richard Pietschmann (1908, 1912; rpt. in Tello 1939) had done decades earlier, I also identified the year of the first recorded appearance of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno in the Royal Library as 1784-1786 (Adorno 1979-80, 7, 19, 27, note 16). Pietschmann’s source, and mine, was the handwritten Catalogus manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Regiæ scriptus et odinatus annis 1784-86 (vol. 3, p. 616), prepared under the supervision of Jón Erichsen, Director of the Royal Library from 1781 to 1787. (Erichsen subsequently published a printed extract of the catalog in Danish, but Guaman Poma’s book is not explicitly mentioned among the Spanish manuscripts that Erichsen listed in the extract’s relevant pages [Erichsen 1786, 82-84]).  

Although the call-number by which we know the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript, “GkS 2232 4to,” appears for the first time in the Erichsen catalog (see illustration), it was probably not numbered during Erichsen’s tenure. Since his work was a shelf-list, with every second page blank and hence intended to make possible the interpolation of later acquisitions, it is more probable that the numbers were added later, when every single item in the Old Royal Collection within the respective formats of folio, quarto, and octavo was numbered in a running series, replacing the less exact means of identifying items’ places on the shelf by the page number of the catalog in which they appeared.

The 1784-86 Erichsen catalog (vol. 3, pp. 606-618) was the first to give the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno a subject classification (see also Section 2.2, below). Folio, quarto, and octavo items were catalogued in separate groups, but they all followed the same subject classification scheme. In the system used by Erichsen, the pertinent subject category was “History,” and it was divided into “Universal,” “Ancient,” and “Recent,” with “Recent History” being further subdivided according to country. Spanish and Portuguese materials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were classified together because of  Portugal’s 1580-1668 incorporation under the Spanish crown. Since Erichsen’s catalog antedates Latin American independence from Spain by some three decades, Spain’s overseas possessions, including Peru and the former Inka empire, were automatically subsumed under “Spain,” the imperial “mother” country. Erichsen thus placed Guaman Poma’s manuscript book in the category of “Recent Spanish and Portuguese History.” Since there are other listings of chronicles in this category, it is likely that the work’s Spanish-language title, “Corónica,” determined, at least in part, its classification under this rubric.

Spanish History,” however,  was broadly conceived in the Erichsen catalog, and the collection of works in which Guaman Poma’s appears in this catalog is quite heterogeneous. The Nueva corónica’s immediate environment consists of  predominantly Spanish-language works that range thematically from history to works of political, juridical, and economic interest. In this context, it is likely that the reference to political and economic governance in Guaman Poma’s title, “Buen gobierno,” also supported the classification of his work, like that of others similarly entitled, under the capacious category identified as Iberian history.

I set out some of these titles so that the reader can “peruse” the Erichsen catalog. The works among which the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno is accommodated include: chronicles of the reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella and the kings of Navarre; discourses of Charles V and his son, Philip II; accounts and “curious papers” on the Spanish Armada, and other affairs of Spain and Rome; the final report on his governance of the eleventh viceroy of Peru, Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna, the marquis of Montesclaros; fragments of a biography of Don Gaspar de Guzmán, the Count-Duke of Olivares and Grand Chancellor of the Indies; a treatise on “justice and good government” in Spain (“la Justicia y buen Gobierno en España”); an exchange between the pope and the Spanish monarch on the reform of certain ecclesiastical abuses; a work directed from the prosecuting attorney of the Council of the Indies to the Count-Duke of Olivares; a discourse of Thomas Campanella on the wisdom of avoiding running afoul of the Spanish monarchy; a series of discourses on the economic restoration of Spain, directed to Olivares; several Spanish diplomatic reports; a Spanish protest to the pope about Portugal; fragments of a biography of Olivares; a work on Spanish numismatics; a treatise on accountancy in the “provinces of the Indias Occidentales;” and a report on affairs in Spain by a Venetian ambassador (GkS 565, 566; 573, 574; 578; 589; 590; 2210; 2211; 2212; 2213; 2215; 2224-2231; 2233; 2234; and 3577, respectively).

Immediately pertinent is GkS 589 2°, the viceroy Montesclaros’ 1615 report to his successor, in a manuscript copy under the title “Luz de materias de Indias” (“‘Light,’ or information, on the affairs of the Indies”). (See Section 4.4, below.) 

If the bibliographic classification of his work in a learned library instead of its use at the seats of power and governance in Madrid and Rome had been Guaman Poma’s objective, he surely would have been pleased with the Erichsen catalog’s placement of his work. As we saw at the outset of this essay, he aspired to have his work preserved both as a celebration of the Andean historical past and a contemporary guide to good governance and the cause of justice (actual pages 751, 991). The work’s first recorded “archival” classification met the challenge, at least with regard to the recognition of his dual subject matter of history and politics. Although the work was not archived permanently, as Guaman Poma desired, in Spain (“cauesa del mundo,” or “head of earthly power,” in his parlance), its location under the bibliographic heading “Spain” precisely hit the mark.

2.2. “(Re)discovery” and Provenance
If Erichsen’s 1784-86 catalog offered the first classification of Guaman Poma’s manuscript, it was not the first notice of the work in the Royal Library’s records. For nearly a century the Royal Library’s manuscript catalog of 1784-86 has provided the earliest date by which the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno’s presence in the Old Royal Collection could be verified. Now, thanks to the recent investigations of the Danish historian, former Research Librarian at the Royal Library Harald Ilsøe, we know that the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno had already appeared in an earlier catalog of the Royal Library, dated 1729. In his recently published study of the early history of the Royal Library’s collections, Ilsøe (1999, 77) announced that this comprehensive shelf-list of manuscript holdings, identified as “E 20” in the Royal Library’s archive, contains the following entry (vol. 2, p. 687, no. 46):

En skreven spansk Bog 4to med mange Figurer. sub titulo El primer nueva coronica, y buen gobierno por D. Filippe Guaman poma de Aiala[A Spanish manuscript in quarto with many illustrations. The title is El primer nueva coronica, y buen gobierno por D. Filippe Guaman poma de Aiala]

While duly entered in the 1729 catalog, the listing of the Nueva corónica there cannot be considered as a subject classification. It appears as number 46 in a miscellaneous list whose topics, in items 40 through 54, include: a dissertation on the kabbala, a work on political theory, a numismatics catalog, a verse-eulogy to king Frederick III of Denmark, an introduction to the Hebrew language, a work of Muslim history, a list of Ethiopian kings, a description of Venice, an introduction to the art of military fortification, several treatises on the arts of war, a work about the Netherlands, and an exposition on Swedish law. The languages represented include Latin, French, Danish, and German, as well as Guaman Poma’s Spanish.

Importantly, though, 1729 now stands as the new, undeniable date by which the autograph manuscript had entered the Danish royal collections. This fact, in turn, makes more plausible the speculation about the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno’s arrival in Denmark in the seventeenth century. Under such circumstances, the range of potential donors would be necessarily limited, pointing to Cornelius Lerche (1615-1681), who served as Danish ambassador to Spain from 1650 to 1655 and from 1658 to 1662.

Decades ago, the Peruvian historian Raúl Porras Barrenechea (1948, 79) mentioned Lerche as a possible donor, and Harald Ilsøe’s recent bibliographic investigations also lead in this direction. Although, as Ilsøe acknowledges, his observations provide only circumstantial evidence, I consider them sufficiently suggestive to be pertinent to this discussion and potentially fruitful for the ongoing investigation of the provenance of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript in the Danish Royal Library. In a personal communication to me of 13 May 2001, Mr. Ilsøe wrote: “The items on the shelves around the Guaman Poma manuscript in 1729 indicate that it was acquired under king Frederick III (1648-1670), that is, most probably before 1663, since the work does not appear in an extant list of acquisitions (“E 8” in the archive of the Royal Library) covering the period 1663-1671.”  In a personal letter of 26 May 2001, Mr. Ilsøe spelled out his line of reasoning:

The arguments for a king Frederick III provenance are still only circumstantial evidence and not proofs. Perhaps most important is the following fact . . . .: Except for the acquisitions from the Coyet and Reitzer collections, the manuscript acquisitions under Frederick IV (1699-1730) are apparently listed together in E 20, vol. 2, pp. 562-564 (cf. Ilsøe 1999, 604 and 614-618), indicating that the Guaman Poma manuscript (listed in E 20, vol. 2, p. 687) was acquired at the latest by ca. 1700. The chain of circumstantial evidence is as follows: (1) The acquisition was probably made before 1700, and (2) it most probably occurred under Frederick III, in 1663, at the latest.  

Hence, Jørgen Reedtz (d. 1682), who was the Danish ambassador to Spain from 1671 to 1680, and Laurids Ulfeldt (1605-1659), whose library, acquired by the Royal Library in 1662, included 163 Spanish books but no Spanish manuscripts, are excluded as earlier possessors. The acquisitions from Ulfeldt’s library are known from a printed catalog (cf. Ilsøe 1999, 214-234). It is possible that either the manuscript was acquired together with the library of Joachim Gersdorff (1611-1661) in 1661(we only have a catalog of his printed books), or that it was a well-chosen gift to Frederick III from Lerche, when he returned from Spain at the end of 1662.

Having been knighted in 1660, Lerche had good reason to express his gratitude to the king. The fact that Lerche owned manuscripts from the library of the Count-Duke of Olivares as well as a manuscript written in an “Indian” language (Ilsøe 1999, 364, no. 30), brings his Spanish collection into a higher class than any other collection taken from Spain to Denmark up to that point in time. We know, furthermore, that Gersdorff acquired Spanish books through Lerche, so either possibility points to an acquisition by Lerche, who was in Madrid during the years 1650-1662, except for a hiatus between 1655 and 1658.

The manuscript in an “Indian” language referred to by Ilsøe above is a collection of sermons, “Sermones sobre los Evangelios y fiestas del anno en lengua Matalzingne [sic] de las Indias,” written in the Amerindian language of Matlazinca. Located in today’s northeast Michoacán, Mexico, the area was known in the sixteenth century as Matalcingo (Gerhard 1993, 106); it was the site of production of Spanish missionary works in the Matlazinca language, including dramatic plays of the life of Christ (Edmonson 1985, 5). Lerche’s possession of this collection of sermons on the Christian gospel and liturgical feasts might or might not suggest an interest on his part in indigenous, precolumbian America; it could have been simply, coincidentally, among other manuscript materials that he collected.

It is of great interest that Lerche owned manuscripts acquired from the library of Don Gaspar de Guzmán (1587-1645), the Count-Duke of Olivares, the statesman and principal minister of Spain’s king Philip IV (1621-1665). As mentioned by Ilsøe (1999, 360-364), no less than six of the forty-six Spanish and Italian manuscripts listed in the 1682 auction catalog of Lerche’s personal book collection derive from Olivares’ library. Ilsøe’s findings and inferences thus keep alive Porras Barrenechea’s (1948, 79) conjecture that it was Cornelius Lerche who acquired the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript in Spain between 1650 and 1662.

One more piece of circumstantial evidence perhaps points to Lerche as donor. In 1993, Ilsøe announced that Daniel Gotthilf Moldenhawer (1753-1823), the renowned director of the Royal Library from 1788 to 1823, had “discovered” the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno more than a century earlier than Pietschmann and that he had hoped to publish segments of it (Ilsøe 1993, 28-32). Moldenhawer’s intervention was not gratuitous; he would have become aware of the potential value of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno because of his own Hispanist interests. He was the first director of the Royal Library to be well acquainted with Spanish language and culture, having spent two periods in Spain (1783-84, 1786-87), for the purposes, respectively, of scholarly investigation and diplomatic negotiation. He collected approximately 150 Spanish documents for a history of the Spanish Inquisition that he proposed to write but never accomplished. That collection of Inquisition materials was unequaled in Europe until twenty years later, when the Napoleonic wars opened Spain’s Inquisition archives (Henningsen 1975-76, 249-250).

Moldenhawer's knowledge of Guaman Poma can be deduced from his 1809 project for publication of a “Museum” of manuscript treasures of the Royal Library. This series of volumes was to include “Information on and samples from a chronicle of Peru that includes the history of the Inkas and the conquest of this kingdom, with a description of its domestic affairs illustrated with drawings” (“Efterretning om og Prøver af en Krønike af Peru, som indbefatter Ynkaernes og dette Riges Erobrings Historie, med en ved Tegninger oplyst Beskrivelse om dets indre Mærkværdigheder”). This mention of Moldenhawer’s 1809 project in 1825 by his successor, Erich Christian Werlauff (1823-1861), is the first printed Royal Library reference to the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (Werlauff 1825, 352; Werlauff 1844, 333).

Ilsøe (1993) has also found Guaman Poma’s work mentioned in the diary of August Hennings, a German civil servant visiting Copenhagen in 1802. Excerpts from this diary were published in 1934. According to Hennings, Moldenhawer held the opinion that the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, like other Spanish manuscripts in the Royal Library, had been “bought from the library left by a Spanish ambassador, a learned man who died in Copenhagen” (“aus dem angekauften Nachlasse eines in Copenhagen verstorbenen spanischen Gesandten, der ein gelehrter Mann war”). Unfortunately, Hennings’ account does not specify whether Moldenhawer had in mind an ambassador from or a (Danish) ambassador to Spain nor whether, as  Ilsøe points out, Moldenhawer’s view of the Nueva corónica’s provenance was conjectural or based on documentary evidence now lost.  

Despite this early discovery of Guaman Poma’s work in the Royal Library, a monumental silence prevailed around the Peruvian manuscript until its “rediscovery” by Pietschmann in 1908. The only probable activity concerning the manuscript between Moldenhawer’s time and Pietschmann’s was the rebinding of the manuscript during the later years of Werlauff’s directorship (see Section 2.4, below). Werlauff likely ordered the task to be done because his predecessor Moldenhawer had esteemed the work and hoped to publish extracts from it.

The late (1908) date of the enduring recognition of the codex after its centuries-long residence in the Royal Library is one of the factors that suggests its inclusion in a “closed” collection soon after its arrival in Denmark. The absence of any owners’ marks or readers’ annotations on the manuscript, as well as its overall perfect state of conservation, likewise support its early deposit and withdrawal from hand-to-hand circulation. All these considerations stand as circumstantial evidence supporting the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno’s incorporation into the oldest collections of the Royal Library probably less than half a century after Guaman Poma put the finishing touches on it in 1616.

From 1908 to 1930, however, the manuscript left the Royal Library for extended periods (see Adorno 1979-80, 19, 27, notes 17-19). The manuscript went first to Göttingen with Richard Pietschmann for his preparation of a transcription and edition. After Pietschmann’s death in 1923, his heirs eventually arranged with Dr. Ferdinand Hestermann, then of the Museum für Völkerkunde in Hamburg and later of the University of Jena, to collate and make a typescript of Pietschmann’s transcription so that his critical edition could be published. The manuscript was sent to Hestermann in Hamburg in 1927 (Adorno 1979-80, 19, 27, note 19). On 25 January 1930, Hestermann informed the Royal Library that he had completed his work. When the Head of the Americanist Section of the Museum für Völkerkunde advised the Royal Library later that spring that it was impossible to foresee a printing date and that a facsimile edition was being planned, the Royal Library replied that an agreement had already been made with the University of Paris for the purpose.

2.3. Misarranged Quires
1927 is a year of particular note in the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno’s long residence in the Royal Library. I have learned from the Royal Library’s archival documents, which were not available to me in 1977, that soon after Hestermann received the codex for collation, he drew the attention of the Royal Library to three problems: (1) the ordering of the manuscript’s pages was faulty; (2) the mapamundi could not be spread out due to tight binding (Guaman Poma’s pages 983-984 [actual pages 1001-1002]); and (3) the upper portions of three sheets had been torn out (Guaman Poma’s pages 702-703, 820-821, 822-823 [actual pages 716-717, 834-835, 836-837]). 

The manuscript was then returned from Hamburg to Copenhagen, and the Royal Library set to the task of loosening the binding, reordering the misplaced quires, and reenforcing the three torn sheets with gummed China paper. At this time, gummed China paper was also applied to the top portions of pages that had been damaged by the excessive amounts of ink that Guaman Poma had applied to them. The reader of the online edition can view directly the location of the China paper applications, make note of the three torn sheets, and appreciate the display of the spectacular mapamundi, now fully open. The problem of reordering the misassembled quires of the manuscript, however, requires a few words of explanation.

Using Guaman Poma’s own numbering of the pages as his guide, Hestermann pointed out in his letter to the Royal Library of 18 February 1927 (Journalsager 4271) that pages 190-397 and 1094-1129 were out of sequence. These sections correspond to actual pages 192-399 and 1104-1139 of the manuscript, that is, quires 5-8 and 22-23. It is impossible to determine when these misorderings occurred. They are surely not errors that Guaman Poma himself would have made. Table 1 summarizes the pre-1927 misplacements and their post-1927 correct sequencing. 

Table 1:  Catalog of Misordered Quires, Restored to their Correct Sequence in 1927     

Pre-1927 errors of quire sequence as described by Hestermann

Quire number

(Guaman Poma’s and post-1927 sequence)

Composition/number of pages

Actual page numbers (1980 Murra/Adorno and 2001 online editions)

Guaman Poma’s original pagination

Post-1927 sequence (and sequence intended by Guaman Poma)


q 1-4






q 5

13 double sheets = 52 pages





q 6-8

3 x 13 double sheets = 156 pages





q 9 ff.


400 ff.

398 ff.









q 21






q 22

whole quire, 7 double sheets =28 pages





q 23 (a)

first half of quire = 4 pages





q 23 (b)

second half of quire = 4 pages





q 24 + q 25


1140 ff.

1130 ff.


The first misplacement noted by Hestermann affected the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno’s accounts of the institutions of Inka society and the beginning of the “Conquista” section of the work that narrates the Spanish conquest and the subsequent civil wars among the Spaniards. Running in one long sequence, these blocks of chapters 9 to 11 (quire 5) and 11 to 19 (quires 6-8), respectively, were found in inverted order. (For an overview of the correlation of chapters and quires, see Table 2, below.)  

The other error of page sequence that Hestermann discovered pertained to the author’s autobiographical account of his final trip to Lima to deliver his manuscript to the viceregal court (“Camina el autor,” ch. 36). This error, which affected quires 22 and 23, differs from the previous one. First, this final, unanticipated chapter, written and inserted into the manuscript by Guaman Poma after he had arrived in Lima, could not be incorporated in his completed “Tabla de la dicha corónica” because there was no room for an additional entry. Second, as bound prior to 1927, the two quires of the “Camina el autor” chapter were merged into one hybrid quire, the first one (quire 22) being inserted into the middle of the second (quire 23). The sequence of the chapter’s content was thus in complete disarray.

This problem of quire sequence leads us directly to the consideration of the manuscript’s binding.

2.4. Binding Activities
How many times was the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript bound? Here, the codicological evidence about Guaman Poma’s pagination makes it possible to state with certainty that the initial stitching together of the quires was done before the manuscript left Guaman Poma’s hands. Perhaps he also had it bound into a cover at that time. 

Guaman Poma numbered the pages of his manuscript after its quires were sewn together. There is significant evidence of ink, blotted from one page number onto the identical spot on its facing page, throughout the manuscript. This would have been caused when numbering the pages and turning the leaf before the previous page was dry. This type of ink blotting would be commonly found within quires, regardless of whether the book was already bound or consisted of loose quires that still needed to be sewn together. Such perfectly matched-up ink blots would not occur between quires if the manuscript were unbound because it would be nearly impossible to get the last page of one quire and the first page of its successor to line up perfectly with one another if they were loose.

In the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, however, there do occur such perfect match-ups between quires, that is, between the inadvertent ink blot that appears on the last (verso) page of one quire and the just-inked number on the first (recto) page of another, or vice versa, that is, the number on the verso page, its ink blot, on the recto. Examples visible to the online viewer are found at the meeting points of quires 8 and 9, 17 and 18, and 18 and 19, that is, on actual pages 399 and 400, 901 and 902, and 961 and 962 (Guaman Poma’s pages 397, 398, 887, 888, 947, and 948, respectively). In addition, the page numbers that Guaman Poma entered in his “Tabla de la dicha corónica” show that he did so at a single sitting at a point in time subsequent to his entry of the chapter titles and his pagination of  the sewn or bound book. The “Tabla” contains his original entries; it does not reflect the subsequent repagination described in Section 3.7, below. 

The perusal of Guaman Poma’s “Tabla” page entries “466,” “468,” and “712” on actual pages 1185 and 1186 reveals that he introduced the chapters’ page numbers after the entry of the calligraphic prose titles had been completed. Inserted subsequently, the page numbers are either squeezed into the space remaining between superscript letters and serifs or appear outside the normal borders of Guaman Poma’s text block. Number 468 shows it best:  Tucked in at the left of the superscript “o” that forms part of Guaman Poma’s abbreviation of “Juan” in his previously entered prose title,  the number “468” appears, at first glance, to be the number “4680”

From this evidence, it is certain: (1) that Guaman Poma finished a first version of his work prior to his composition and incorporation of the “Camina el autor” chapter; (2) that he had the manuscript sewn and perhaps bound; (3) that he subsequently paginated it; and (4) that he then entered the appropriate page numbers in the spaces in the “Tabla” that he had earlier left blank. At a still later point in time he made the final emendations to his manuscript that I take up in Section 4, below.

Aside from the initial sewing of the manuscript under Guaman Poma’s direct supervision, we can point to a number of other visibly distinct binding operations. As I noted years ago (Adorno 1979-80, 16, 27, notes 5 and 6), the binding for which we have positive evidence, in the form of the book block’s incised and gilded edges, is likely to have occurred in the seventeenth century. The evidence of this early binding has been preserved because the manuscript’s margins were not recut in subsequent binding operations; the elegant finishing, which was rather uncommon in Spanish seventeenth-century bindings, was left intact.

This binding operation cut and gilded the edges of the book block and also produced the bottom-fold sheets and truncated texts mentioned above in “Preliminary Remarks.” A thin overlay of gold was then applied to the book’s cut edges, and simple incisions were made to produce decorative patterns running crosswise to the thickness of the book. The incised patterns on the book’s top and bottom edges are curved, suggesting that the spine of the book was rounded at the time of incision, in contrast to its present, flat-spined binding.

This binding activity, done at an unspecified place and point in time after the manuscript left Guaman Poma’s hands, probably introduced the errors in quire sequence (quire 5 placed after quires 6-8, and quire 22 set into the midpoint of quire 23) that would not be rectified until 1927.

The third binding as well as the extant leather cover date from the reign of king Frederick VII (1848-1863), as indicated by the royal emblem that appears on the spine of the book. (See “Binding/Encuadernación” on this website.) We may call this the “Werlauff binding.” Probably acting on the information that his illustrious predecessor, D.G. Moldenhawer, had planned to publish parts of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript, Royal Library Director Erich Werlauff arranged for its rebinding. Thus the manuscript that Moldenhawer had deemed worthy of study and publication was newly preserved in the binding cover by which we know it. Since no one by that date had investigated or studied the manuscript closely, the errors of quire arrangement were perpetuated in this mid-nineteenth-century operation.

Although the gold-adorned leather binding was done under Werlauff’s direction in the 1850s, the American historian Philip Ainsworth Means described the manuscript in the 1920s as being bound in parchment. Upon recounting his September 1922 visit to Göttingen to see the manuscript in Richard Pietschmann’s care, Means (1923, 398) reported, “The bulky work is bound in ancient parchment.” How is this to be explained? When the manuscript was sent from the Royal Library on extended loan to Pietschmann in Göttingen, it is likely that its leather binding was sheathed in a special cover to protect it during the period of Pietschmann’s editorial work. In the brief visit that he paid to Pietschmann in Göttingen to peruse the manuscript, Means may or may not have made conscious note of the binding and simply reported on it according to an incorrect recollection. In any case, there is no evidence that the Nueva corónica appeared in an ancient parchment cover at any time after the mid-nineteenth century and the application of the Frederick VII era binding. 

The fourth major rebinding is the one for which the most complete information exists. This operation was prompted by Ferdinand Hestermann’s February 1927 notice to the Royal Library that the pages of the manuscript were misordered. We may conjecture that Pietschmann had discovered much earlier the faulty page sequence, but that he had not been hindered by it in the preparation of his transcription. For anyone reading and transcribing the manuscript as Pietschmann was doing, the correct sequence would have been readily perceived, thanks to Guaman Poma’s orderly presentation of materials and his employment of structuring devices (pagination, catchwords, etc.) that made clear how the manuscript’s elements were to be arranged.

When in 1927 the Royal Library’s conservationists loosened the binding of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript, reordered its quires, and applied China paper reenforcements, they did not prepare a new binding cover. Instead, they simply reapplied the Frederick VII embossed leather binding which was still well preserved, thanks no doubt to the sleeve that had protected it during the manuscript’s years abroad. The extant cover shows clear evidence of this reapplication process; it has received a new paste-down, front and back, and the call number is written in the hand of Dr. Ellen Jørgensen (1877-1941), Curator of Manuscripts from 1914 to 1941. The remains of the previous paste-down from the Frederick VII era can still be seen underneath the current one.

In seeking to restore the manuscript’s intended page sequence, Hestermann identified the problems and the Royal Library remedied them with ease because the manuscript itself gave a complete account of how its pages were to be ordered. Guaman Poma had employed four structuring tools: (1) a repeatedly updated pagination of the manuscript; (2) the simultaneous use of a catchword at the foot of every page to signal the word with which the next page’s text began; (3) the use of running heads, over virtually every page; and, finally, (4) his carefully prepared (though not updated) “Tabla de la dicha corónica” (actual pages 1179-1189).

Guaman Poma prepared his manuscript for its subsequent and eventual handlers (hopefully, in the royal court and later in the royal printing shop) according to his experience as a reader of printed books. Above the text block on every page he penned a running head that contained  a key word or words of the chapter’s title; at the foot of the text block on each page, he employed a catchword. He also carefully corrected catchwords to correspond to his pages’ new successors as he inserted new materials into the manuscript. Along with pagination, he used this means to indicate the proper placement of his late-added “Camina el autor” chapter, for which there remained no available space in the “Tabla” to make a desired entry. With close attention to detail, he modified the catchword on the page that was to precede the opening of  “Camina el autor.” Thus, “tratemos,” which cued the chapter of the months of the year, is crossed out and “a su casa” inserted (actual page 1103), making clear to the careful binder (or reader) that “Camina el autor” was to follow the chapter on tanpu, or royal inns, thus taking the place of the chapter of the months of the year, which now was to follow “Camina el autor.”

Although not a faithful reproduction of the ultimate contents of his book or its final pagination, Guaman Poma’s “Tabla” served as an indispensable tool in determining the intended chapter sequence. The portion of the “Tabla” on actual pages 1181-1182, for example, allowed Hestermann to identify, and the Royal Library to correct, the errors of placement that pertained to the chapters on Inka institutions. Guaman Poma’s efforts to order his book will be discussed in Section 3.5, below. 

While the prospect of misordered pages and quires might make the reader question the order and coherence of the work in general and its completeness in particular, as I did earlier (Adorno 1979-80, 14), the pre-1927 misplacements and their 1927 remedy lead us in the opposite direction, that is, to a further appreciation of the work’s remarkable integrity (see Section 4, below).

2.5. The Paris Facsimile Edition: No Universal Retracing
The Royal Library’s digital facsimile of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno definitively reveals that no universal retracing of the manuscript was produced for the landmark Paris facsimile edition of 1936. Although in 1979-80 I speculated about the possible retracing of the manuscript prior to the Paris publication and noted a few specific alterations, I also observed that “the quality of the Paris facsimile overall is excellent” (Adorno 1979-80, 19-20, 28, note 23). Thanks to the online edition, it is now possible to underscore the high quality of the print facsimile and set aside the claims, repeated most recently by Valerie Fraser (1996) and Juan Ossio (1999, 2001), that the 1936 facsimile is a result of universal retracing.

Except for the thickening occasioned by generations of reproduction in the modern editions, the firmness of line and imperceptibility of difference between the autograph manuscript and the Paris facsimile reveal the identity between the images of Guaman Poma’s manuscript and its then-path-breaking 1936 Paris surrogate. The careful reader will note this correspondence not only in the 398 drawings but also throughout the 800 pages of prose text. In fact, the extremely few retracings or redrawings attempted in the print facsimile vividly reveal how distorting—and how immediately recognizable—a universal retracing of the original would have been.

I offer here two sets of observations that result from a close examination of the print and digital facsimile editions and are further corroborated by the official correspondence of the Institut d’Ethnologie of the University of Paris and the Royal Library in Copenhagen. I first consider the retouching of photographic images prepared for the Paris facsimile edition, and, second, the application of China paper reinforcements to the autograph manuscript. The Paris/Copenhagen collaboration was carried out under the supervision of Paul A. Rivet (1876-1958), Secretary General of the Institut d'Ethnologie from 1926 to 1941, and Carl S. Petersen (1873-1958), Director of the Royal Library from 1924 to 1943.

2.5.1. “Painting Out Bleedthroughs”
In the process of making detailed comparisons between the print and digital facsimile editions, I discovered that the monumental task in preparing the 1936 print facsimile was not to do retracings but rather to eradicate the ink “bleedthroughs” coming from the opposite side of the sheet. The importance and magnitude of the effort to eliminate these unwanted penetrations has not been apparent to readers acquainted only with the printed facsimile or other print editions. The new online edition, however, foregrounds the problem of bleedthroughs, which plagues the entire Nueva corónica y buen gobierno because Guaman Poma wrote or drew on both sides of all its sheets. Remedying the situation during the preparation of the Paris edition was a daunting challenge. 

Although I asserted two decades ago (Adorno 1979-80, 20) that the proofs for the facsimile edition were corrected in Paris without access to the original, it is now clear that the process was more complicated. Official Royal Library correspondence that was not available to me in 1977 shows that the photographs were produced in the Photographic Atelier of the Royal Library and sent without alteration to Paris, where bleedthroughs were “painted out.” (“Retoucher” is the term used in the French correspondence between the Royal Library and Paris.)

Documents from the Institut d’Ethnologie, photocopies of which are now in the Royal Library’s archive, indicate that on 16 June 1930 the University of Paris contracted the Parisian printer Paul Catin to carry out the “retouche” process. Catin was to be compensated at the rate of a little more than one man-hour per page, at ten francs per hour, for a total of 1500 hours or 15.000 francs. In April 1932, however, Catin billed the University of Paris for the presumably completed “travaux de retouche” in the amount of 36.000 francs, which would have meant that Catin charged the work at the rate of three man-hours, not one-man hour, per page (1200 x 3 x 10). The higher rate reflects the considerable and delicate work required to achieve the eradication of the ubiquitous dense bleedthroughs.

The University of Paris then sent the photographic proofs bearing the results of the “retouche” process back to Copenhagen to be checked against the original manuscript. The Royal Library’s specialist in Romance Languages, Hans Aage Paludan, undertook the enormous task of checking the proofs with their 3.600 hours’ worth of corrections. The Institut d’Ethnologie’s Paul Rivet acknowledged Paludan’s painstaking and successful efforts in the foreword to the Paris facsimile edition. Rivet cited Paludan’s devotion to the “thankless task of correcting the proofs” which had assured that the work came out well: “Grâce à l’amabilité du Directeur [Carl S. Petersen] de la Bibliothèque royale de Copenhague, grâce au dévouement de Monsieur Paludan, qui a bien voulu assumer la tâche ingrate de corriger les épreuves, l’œuvre a été menée à bien” (Guaman Poma 1936, v).

Painting out the obtrusive bleedthroughs was a highly delicate operation. The most difficult challenge was to eradicate the unwanted penetrations of ink found in the upper portion of sheets. This area was the most adversely affected because of the heavily inked calligraphic titles that Guaman Poma typically created at the top of both sides of the sheet. The major consequence of “painting out” in these areas was, not surprisingly, the loss of serifs and other details on the letters of Guaman Poma’s elaborate calligraphy. Occasionally, the process had to be undertaken throughout whole pages. The pictorical account of the general inspection, or census (chapter 10), is a case in point; the entire pictorial field of most of the chapter’s drawings had been penetrated by the ink applied to the other side of the sheet.

Redrawing (also “retoucher” in French) in the facsimile edition was done only where necessary, always conscientiously, and with a remarkably light hand. I summarize here the range of these instances in order to underscore their exceptionality to the general practice. These emendations resulted from restraint, rather than the will to modify the original. 

The major consequences of redrawing in the Paris facsimile are as follows (all page numbers refer to the actual pagination rather than Guaman Poma’s numbering): (1) the usually expertly-done filling in of blank spaces in the photography caused by the photographic reproduction of the perforations in the large letters of Guaman Poma’s calligraphic titles; (2) the repeated distortion of particularly large letters when redrawn, notably the S, the C, and the O, with the foot of the S and C not quite touching the invisible line on which Guaman Poma wrote, and the O, foreshortened and floating above it (Fraser [1996, 285] noted the “O” problem); (3) the redrawing of lines representing the sky at the top of the pictorial field of many drawings because painting out bled-through images from the other side of the sheet had eradicated them; (4) the infrequent redrawing of other images appearing in the upper portions of the pictorial field, such as the plumes on an Inka’s headdress (pp. 96, 260, 263), the horns of a devil figure (p. 248), a roof line (p. 306), the top of a young woman’s head (p. 225), or the upper portion of the aureola surrounding an image of the Virgin Mary (p. 717); and (5) the redrawing of words under the title or on the upper portion of the pictorial field (e.g. quilla, or month [ch. 11; see p. 246]).

The most noticeable and unsuccessful replacement is found on a drawing depicting the punishment of adulterers. Obscured in the photography or when painting out bledthrough verso images, Guaman Poma’s original “De ADVLTERAS” (“about adulteresses”) on line three was replaced by the nonsensical “De ADVETEIRAS” (actual page 308; Guaman Poma 1936, 306; Figures 1a and 1b).

The most difficult and complex cases of redrawing are found not on the pictorial pages but rather in the upper portions of prose pages. As in the case of “De Adúlteras,” the lack of knowledge of Spanish occasionally created an impediment when redrawing lines of Guaman Poma’s prose text. Lines three on actual pages 401 and 415, respectively, reveal the difficulty. The macron over the letter “q” to render Spanish “que” is replaced by a French circumflex, and “el moso” becomes “le moso” (Guaman Poma 1936, 399, 413; Figures 2a and 2b). The reader’s best guide to the minimal cursive rewritings in the Paris facsimile is to compare, as an example, lines three and four and three through six, respectively, on actual pages 395 and 397 (Guaman Poma 1936, 393, 395; Figures 3a and 3b). On page 395 the general heaviness and “smudged” appearance of the cursive letters, as well as the broad, inexplicable mark that appears between the “g” and “o” of “Rodrigo,” are the result of the nearly impossible task of painting out the bled-through images from the opposite side of the sheet. In this particular instance no attempt was made to write over Guaman Poma’s cursive script. Page 397, however, reveals clearly that an attempt was made to rewrite Guaman Poma’s cursive text because the overlying pen strokes are clearly not his own.

In this context, Fraser’s (1996, 283) statement that much of the facsimile “is in fact, a copy, probably a tracing on to an overlay” must be rejected. The examples of variation that she noted between the original manuscript and the Paris facsimile are not the result of its universal recopying but rather, in quite limited circumstances, the effort to compensate for the tiny losses to the text’s graphic integrity occasioned by the “painting out” of images that had “bled through” from the back of the sheet. 

Fraser (1996, 283) presented some examples that reveal, contrary to her hypothesis, how exceptional the actual cases of redrawing are. One of the instances she cited is that of the stars in the upper left hand portion of the mapamundi (actual page 1001). Here redrawing did occur in the printed facsimile in the form of little circles that appear inside some of the stars in the drawing’s firmament.

Two other examples of presumed modification result not, as Fraser claimed, from full-scale retracing. They stem, instead, from an attempt, in the first instance, to suppress images and text that have bled through from the reverse of the sheet and, in the second, the failure to do so. The first case pertains to the absence of shading on some of the June harvest’s potatoes pictured in the drawing of that month (actual page 1157; Guaman Poma 1936, 1147; Figures 4a and 4b). Fraser (1996, 283) asserted that the “copyist” “omitted the shading on some of the potatoes” while retracing the image.This is, however, a simple case of tiny pen strokes being lost when the ink that penetrated the verso from the recto was painted out. Further scrutiny of the same picture reveals also that after the unwanted ink penetrations were removed from the face of the kneeling female figure, a technician redrew her eye (incompletely), and replaced the original wavy line of her face-framing hair by a straight line that looks like the border of a cap. Again, the redrawing was occasioned by the effort to restore the pen strokes that the paintouts had eradicated; it was not part of an overall retracing effort.

In the second case, a small Greek cross, a so-called “cross formée,” appears, unmotivated, on the pictorial background of the drawing of Saint Bartholomew (Guaman Poma 1936, 92, 93; Figures 5a and 5b). Fraser (1996, 283) interpreted this to be the result of the “copyist’s” “tracing it through onto the recto where it appears without explanation.”  The perfect image of the cross formée that adorns the picture was not traced through from the opposite side of the sheet.  It was, rather, a case in which the technician correcting the text failed to remove, apparently by simple oversight, the bleedthrough from the other side of the sheet.

Finally, there is the case of the black or mulatto figure whipping a native Andean, which Fraser discussed with regard to Guaman Poma’s artistry (actual page 810; Guaman Poma 1936, 796; Figures 6a and 6b). Again, the matter of bleedthrough is pertinent. Fraser (1996, 283) asserted that the “soft downy growth” that appears on the chin and upper lip of the figure with a version of a cat-o’-nine-tails in hand, visible in Guaman Poma’s original drawing, was “an effect created, perhaps, by [his] dampening the paper or licking the pen nib.” This procedure seems highly unusual amidst Guaman Poma’s characteristically single, clear, thin-pen strokes. In fact, the effect was not created by introducing moisture while composing the original. It is instead a combination of the original drawing’s very thinly drawn curls combined with a bleedthrough from the verso. Here, the result that Fraser observed was not caused by an unusual technique employed by Guaman Poma on this single occasion but rather by the penetration of ink from the other side of the sheet into the exceptionally finely wrought drawing.

Overall, by their character and limited number, these instances reveal how faithful the Paris print facsimile was to the manuscript that it reproduced. Generally, imperfect renderings are caused by the inability to cover the bleedthroughs. Many tiny (and often nearly imperceptible) distortions thus appear not because of aggressive, post-photography manipulation of the images but rather from the reticence to manipulate them too much.

2.5.2. China Paper Applications
The second most important consideration, obvious to the online-edition viewer, is the presence of gummed China paper strips that have been applied to some two hundred pages of the autograph manuscript. There are approximately thirty such applications to the outer margins of the outside sheets at the front and back of the codex, which no doubt became especially worn from Guaman Poma’s handling, moisture, etc., before the manuscript was bound in a cover. Approximately 175 China paper applications are found across the vulnerable upper portions of heavily inked pages, mostly in the range of actual pages 100-600. Also affected, not surprisingly, are several pages of “Camina el autor,” which Guaman Poma wrote in Lima on loose quires that he would later tuck into the completed manuscript (see actual pages 1105, 1106, 1108, 1110, 1113, 1116, 1134). 

As mentioned above, the China paper reinforcements were applied in Copenhagen in 1927, just three years before the photographs for the Paris edition were produced by the Royal Library. Earlier, I erroneously cited these reinforcements as being partly responsible for obscuring portions of the facsimile text pages (Adorno 1979-80, 19). It was not the case. Transparent or nearly so in 1930, the China paper did not in itself adversely affect the quality of the photographic images. A useful example appears on the Nueva corónica’s page 68. The Paris facsimile edition reveals that the China paper application did not jeopardize the legibility of the text or necessitate an overall retouching (actual page 68; Guaman Poma 1936, 68; Figures 7a and 7b).


3. The Author’s Biography and His Composition of the Work

3.1. New Biographical Information about Guaman Poma
Many documentary discoveries in the past two decades have made it possible to advance our previous understanding of Guaman Poma’s life and activities. Coordinating these new archival discoveries with the contents of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, I have reconstructed Guaman Poma’s biography (see my introductory essay, sections IV and V, in the online edition on this website, or Adorno 2001, 27-40, 59-73). Old assertions, such as my own of two decades ago (Adorno, 1979-80, 8) to the effect that “almost nothing is known about the author Guaman Poma except that which can be gleaned from his own writings,” must now definitively be discarded.

The 1990s witnessed the production of much documentary evidence that sheds new light on Guaman Poma and his activities as they relate to the production of the work by which we know him. Elías Prado Tello and Alfredo Prado Prado’s 1991 publication of the dossier of litigations concerning the possession of the lands of Chiara in the valley of Chupas, Huamanga, gives a much fuller and more detailed picture of the land-title struggles in which Guaman Poma was engaged in the 1590s. Overall, we find that Guaman Poma’s assertions about his activities reflect the attitudes and actions of the Andean provincial elite from the mid-sixteenth century onward. On the whole, these individuals responded eagerly to the chance to seek offices and privileges in the colonial system. Starting in the 1550s, native lords served as subordinates to Spanish colonial administrators, and they continued to compete for positions in the Spanish colonial bureaucracy after the reorganization of native society under the viceroy Francisco de Toledo (1569-1581). Guaman Poma’s documented experience offers a vivid example of this tendency as he served in many of the intermediary roles played by Andeans who learned Spanish.

Pertinent to the present inquiry is the fact that Guaman Poma was in Lima at the royal Audiencia, that is, the highest civil and criminal court of the viceroyalty, on at least two occasions in the late 1590s.  In both instances, he presented documents upholding his and his clansmen’s claims to the Chupas lands. His first appearance is documented as 11 September 1597, when the royal notary Juan Ramos Cervantes certified the account of Guaman Poma’s presentation at court of a royal provision, of which Cervantes then made an official copy and Guaman Poma kept the original (Prado Tello and Prado Prado, eds. 1991, 329).  Guaman Poma’ s second visit is documented as 6 March 1599; again Guaman Poma brought original documents for certification, and this time the royal notary Juan de Herrera verified their authenticity, and Guaman Poma carried the originals away with him (Prado Tello and Prado Prado, eds. 1991, 375). Both accounts identify Guaman Poma as “Don Phelipe Guaman Poma,” whose first personal appearance in the dossier is dated 13 June 1597 (Prado Tello and Prado Prado, eds. 1991, 360, 369). These successful Audiencia visits were followed, however, by Guaman Poma's legal defeat. (See Adorno 1993 [English], or Adorno 1995 [Spanish], for the full account of these litigations). 

3.2. Period of Composition of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno
It now seems likely that Guaman Poma began writing his work no earlier than after the end of the year 1600, not as early as 1585, as I had argued earlier (Adorno 1979-80, 16). New documentary evidence suggests that he would have turned to writing only after he lost his legal battles to land claims in the area of Huamanga and after he was exiled from that city on 19 December 1600. Acknowledging these hardships only allusively in the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, Guaman Poma nevertheless let slip the observation, in discussing the pretensions and criminal activities of “common Indians,” that he first became aware of such social disintegration—Andean society being turned “upside-down”—when he began his travels, that is, as he wrote, “in the year that we left, of 16[0]0 and afterward” (actual pages 872, 886). 

In contrast to his extraordinary assertion of having spent “twenty if not thirty” years writing his work, the prospect of his full-time engagement with it after his expulsion from Huamanga at the end of 1600 seems much more plausible. Without his Huamanga-based employment in occupations such as church inspector’s assistant or minor functionary and witness in land-transfer transactions, he probably devoted considerable time, over a period of ten or more years, to the research and composition of his book. I summarize the pertinent arguments and give fuller analyses of the documentary evidence elsewhere (see Section VI of my online essay, or Adorno 2001, 31-40, 64-73).  The great number of references he makes to the years 1612 and 1613, found from the earliest chapters of the manuscript onward, suggest that the full text of this final draft, completed prior to making the emendations described below in Section 4, was prepared from some point in 1612 through early 1615 (see also Adorno 2000, xvi-xvii). 

Although Guaman Poma announced in a letter to king Philip III on 14 February 1615 that he had completed his work (Guaman Poma in Adorno 2001, 86), we know that he did not put the final, finishing touches on it earlier than the first months of 1616. The signally important datum on this point is a note that he appended to his completed portrait of the eleventh viceroy, Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna (actual page 474; Figure 8). It reveals that Guaman Poma’s writing task carried him beyond December 1615, when Montesclaros’ regime drew to a close: “And he governed until the year of 1615 in the time of Philip III” (“Y gouernó hasta el año de mill y seycientos y quinze años en tienpo del Rey felipo el tersero”). Montesclaros left office on 18 December 1615. Although it is impossible to determine how extensive Guaman Poma’s 1616 emendations were, the date stands as the most fair and faithful assessment of his final editing of the work.  I consider below, in Section 4, the final phases of Guaman Poma’s efforts, from a point in time around his February 1615 letter to the king through an unspecified point in time in 1616.

3.3. Guaman Poma’s Overall Plan
Guaman Poma’s planning and execution of his book, quire by quire, is quite remarkable. The regularity of the first twenty quires, all “large,” reveals that he copied out his work onto the pages of the prepared quires in a pattern and arrangement well designed before their execution. As indicated above (Section 1.1.1), twice-folded sheets, each yielding four quarto sheets or eight pages, were used to make up most of the quires.  

Quires 1 through 4 each consist of twelve double sheets or 6 “pliegos” (6 x 8 = 48 pages), which probably represents the model of construction that Guaman Poma originally intended for the entire work. The composition of the final quires, in the form of single sheets with flaps pasted together to make composite double sheets, suggests the scarcity of writing materials—perhaps, in fact, Guaman Poma’s dwindling supply of them—and his need to patch together pieces of available paper during the final stages of his monumental project.

As suggested by the first quire and its contents, Guaman Poma’s original plan seems to have been to fully coordinate quires and chapters, ending a chapter at the end of a quire. However, he soon must have realized the difficulty of doing so, and he obviously became comfortable ignoring the “natural” breaks provided by the beginnings and endings of quires as he continued the redaction of this final copy of the work. Guaman Poma concluded a chapter on the verso of the last sheet of a quire only three times, without counting the belatedly added “Camina el autor.” These are chapters 4, 33, and 35, which are concluded at the end of quires 1, 20, and 21, respectively (see Table 2, below).

The confidence with which Guaman Poma proceeded through the making of the book is apparent, again suggesting that he worked from a draft that allowed him to realize the final copy with a minimum of misslips. Table 2 summarizes the contents of the work and its distribution over the prepared quires by coordinating the online edition’s table of contents with quire and page numbers. 

Table 2: Quires and Chapters of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno


chapter number (as prepared for the online edition) and contents            

page numbers


ch. 1: The first new chronicle;
ch. 2: “How God ordained the writing of this book;”
ch. 3: the ages of the world;
ch. 4: the popes and their reigns



ch. 5: the ages of the Indians;
ch. 6 (beginning): the Inkas



ch. 6 (conclusion): the Inkas;
ch. 7: the queens, or quya



ch. 8: the Inka’s captains and their noble ladies;
ch. 9 (beginning): the Inka’s laws



ch. 9 (conclusion): the Inka’s laws;
ch. 10: the general inspection, or census;
ch. 11 (beginning): the months of the year



ch. 11 (conclusion): the months of the year;
ch. 12: the idols;
ch. 13 (beginning): burials



ch. 13 (conclusion): burials;
ch. 14: the Inka’s chosen virgins;
ch. 15: the Inka’s justice;
ch. 16: festivals;
ch. 17: the Inka’s patrimony;
ch. 18 (beginning): the Inka’s government



ch. 18 (conclusion): the Inka’s government;
ch. 19 (beginning): the Spanish conquest and the civil wars



ch. 19 (conclusion): the Spanish conquest and the civil wars;
ch. 20 (beginning): “good government”



ch. 20 (conclusion): “good government”;
ch. 21 (beginning): colonial Indian administration (corregimiento)



ch. 21 (continuation): colonial Indian administration (corregimiento)



ch. 21 (conclusion): colonial Indian administration (corregimiento);
ch. 22: trustees of Indians (encomenderos);
ch. 23 (beginning): parish priests



ch. 23 (continuation): parish priests



ch. 23 (conclusion): parish priests;
ch. 24: church inspectors;
ch. 25: black Africans;
ch. 26 (beginning): censure, reprimand, and satirical dialogues



ch. 26 (conclusion): censure, reprimand, and satirical dialogues;
ch. 27: judgments of exemplary Christians;
ch. 28 (beginning): princes, native lords, and other hereditary Andean ranks 



ch. 28 (conclusion): princes, native lords, and other hereditary Andean ranks;
ch. 29: local native administrators;
ch. 30 (beginning): “Indians of this kingdom”



ch. 30 (continuation): “Indians of this kingdom”



ch. 30 (conclusion): “Indians of this kingdom;”
ch. 31 (beginning): religious and moral considerations



ch. 31 (conclusion): religious and moral considerations;
ch. 32: Guaman Poma’s dialogue with the king;
ch. 33 (beginning): this kingdom and its cities and towns



ch. 33 (conclusion): this kingdom and its cities and towns



ch. 34: earlier chronicles;
ch. 35: inns, or tanpu, on the royal road



ch. 36 (beginning): the author’s journey to Lima



ch. 36 (conclusion): the author’s journey to Lima



ch. 37 (beginning): the months of the year



ch. 37 (conclusion): the months of the year;
“The table of contents of the said chronicle” (beginning)



“The table of contents of the said chronicle” (conclusion)


 Extra sheet

Conclusion of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno



3.4. Textual Composition
Guaman Poma’s method of textual composition in this final version of his manuscript was to work page by page and from top to bottom in a single process.  (Pagination, catchwords, and marginal emendations were added later.) For the pictures, he always drew the frame-lines first, starting either with the running head or with the first line of the drawing’s title. This top line of text served as the top line of the frame; vertical and horizontal lines created the other three picture boundaries. In this procedure the title of the drawing was always created prior to the pictorial elements. When a picture title appeared beneath a running head, the running head was probably created first, as is the case for the prose pages. The procedure for these accompanying prose pages was less complex, but it followed the same top-to-bottom execution. This procedure is revealed by the accommodation of letters of the picture title to the running head above it; quick examples are the short “l,” the small “o,” the left-bent “h,” and the short “d” and “h” in the picture titles on actual pages 844, 874, 877, and 880, respectively. The running head uniformly constituted the top line of the text frame; occasionally, a large, calligraphic line of text was created beneath it. Afterward the text in script was written out, always within the boundaries of an invisible frame that give Guaman Poma’s pages of text remarkably uniform margins. 

The relationship of pictorial to prose text is always defined by the priority of the drawing over the page or pages of its verbal accompaniment.  Variations in the color of ink occasionally make this relational aspect evident, but the discernment of this compositional procedure is not dependent on the visual perception of differences in ink color. Each and every one of Guaman Poma’s 398 drawings, whether they appear on recto or verso pages, initiate a presentation that is only subsequently supplemented by being “put into words” in a page or more of prose. Two vivid examples are actual pages 636-637 and 708-709. In the first instance, Guaman Poma depicts a native assistant (fiscal) with the new parish priest, the former offering to the latter the writing tools that he has gathered up at the priest’s command. The priest replies that he is not interested in serving a community in which the means to expose his anticipated actions are so readily available; he tells the fiscal, “Tomorrow I’ll be on my way!” Although Guaman Poma writes the anecdote briefly into the picture, it is on the following page of prose that he spells it out more fully, indicating where it occurred, and commenting at length on the incident.

The other vivid example that I would mention that reveals how the prose text is conceived to support the primary visual text is found in the famous depiction of the “tariff” (“aranzel”) exacted from the Andean population by the Spanish colonial administration. Here Guaman Poma allegorizes the various officers of colonial government as real and mythical animal predators of the colonized Andeans. Identifying each beast with a colonial official in the picture, he elaborates these allegorical correspondences in the written account that follows (actual pages 708-709).

If the reader peruses each of the 398 drawings and reads the accompanying prose texts, it will be apparent that this “first-picture-then-prose” method was, for Guaman Poma, not only his compositional procedure but the very heart of his conceptualization of his work. The pictures announce, dramatize, and “presentify” the book’s contents; they are the work’s primary text, not its secondary “illustrations.” He designed, in fact, the majority of his chapters as alternating pages of pictures and prose. There are, meanwhile, significant differences in the quantity of material in the prose texts; some pages have generous spaces between lines of writing while others are tightly cramped. The reader who observes these differences will appreciate the fact that Guaman Poma’s pictures dictate the course and content of his exposition and that the alternating spaces he allotted for their prose complements restricted in length the verbal content to be communicated. He simply had to “make do” with the space available as he had allotted it, whether the supplementary prose text was long or short. 

Excellent examples of how the pictures structure the work, and how the prose texts were adjusted to the space he made available to them, appear in the crucial chapter, “Buen gobierno” (chapter 20). There Guaman Poma barely found sufficient space available between pictures to set forth his written account of the viceroy Francisco de Toledo’s administration that included Toledo’s execution of the Inka prince Tupac Amaru as well as his own related recommendations on native governance (actual pages 447-459). Another example is the contrast between his treatment of the then-distant second viceroy of Peru, Don Antonio de Mendoza (1551-1552) and that of the contemporary eleventh viceroy—the last one to rule during the writing of his book—Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna, the marquis of Montesclaros. Guaman Poma's lack of information about, or interest in, the long-gone regime of Antonio de Mendoza left him with so much extra space on the single prose page devoted to that administration that he had room enough, at the end, to introduce one of his famous harangues against “foolish and incapable and pusillanimous Spaniards.” In contrast, given his firsthand knowledge of Montesclaros' government, Guaman Poma faced a real challenge in squeezing into a single page of prose all that he had to say about that viceroy's governance (actual pages 439, 475; see Section 4.3.2, below).

There are only a few exceptions to this dual-medium compositional rule. Chapters that are exclusively or nearly exclusively prose texts consist of dialogues, preacherly harangues, commentary on previous chronicles, and the author’s narration of his trip to Lima (chapters 26, 27, 31, 32, 34, and 36).

Apart from these general procedures, we find brief captions added beneath the picture box of many drawings. The distinctive ink color of these captions contrasts with other ink colors on the respective pages, suggesting that they were introduced at a point in time later than that of the creation of the pictures; actual pages 145, 196 and 198 provide quick examples of these contrasts. These picture captions seem to have left no ink blots and were no doubt entered prior to the sewing of the manuscript when Guaman Poma could spread out the double sheets, enter the captions, and let the ink dry before uniting the quire again.

3.5. The “Tabla de la dicha corónica”
The preparation of the “Tabla” constitutes the next distinctive phase in the construction of Guaman Poma’s work. It begins and ends on the sheets of the final two quires of the manuscript, starting on the verso page of quire 25 and occupying all of quire 26 (actual pages 1178-1187).  Both of these quires are made up of composite double sheets, that is, two single sheets with flap, pasted together, thus giving evidence of Guaman Poma’s struggle in managing diminishing resources. (The pasted-on single sheet that follows it, featuring the presentation statement and the coat of arms of Castille [actual pages 1188-1189], was probably added after the completion of the full manuscript at a much later point in time.)

Guaman Poma obviously considered the “Tabla” to be an important work of design and calligraphy. Because of the formal qualities that he created and endeavored to maintain there, the “Tabla” is ultimately a multiple and less accurate “witness” to the actual contents of the work than it is to the aims that the author/artist had for its creation. It provides eloquent testimony to the aspirations that Guaman Poma had for this version of his work as the presentation copy destined for Philip III. More interestingly, it reveals the multiple and complex ways in which Guaman Poma conceptualized and organized his work. I explore here only the most basic aspects of his creative handling of the convention of the table of contents, reserving for another occasion a full analysis. At present, my main interest is to show how his “Tabla” conceptualization of the “good government” relates to his finally emergent view of the rule of the viceroys, in particular, the Marqués de Montesclaros. The key to the “Tabla” conceptualization of “good government” can be approached by considering the levels of organization that Guaman Poma conceived for his work. 

The first level of organization is provided by the title of the work: the Nueva corónica and Buen gobierno. Guaman Poma himself referred to his work as Nueva corónica y buen gobierno and Corónica nueva y buen gobierno as abbreviated forms of his full title, “El primer nueva corónica i buen gobierno” (frontispiece, actual pages 1138, 1188) (see Section 4.8, below).

A second level of organization gives us the three main divisions of the work, and it is provided by the body of the work together with the “Tabla.” Added to the two title elements of Nueva corónica and Buen gobierno and separating them, “Conquista” is announced by a bold calligraphic “CONquista” on page 370 (Figures 9a and 9b).  It is further distinguished from the other two units of the work by the running head, “CONQVISTA,” that appears on every page of this lengthy segment (actual pages 370-437).  The introduction of “Conquista” as one of the elements of the work’s tripartite organization is also made in the “Tabla,” in which we find the enormous letters “CON” announcing the “Conquista” presentation (actual page 1182; Figure 9b). 

There is yet a third level of organization that is also suggested by Guaman Poma’s calligraphy as it appears in the “Tabla”. He created, in large Latinate lower case letters, ten graphically distinctive segments that constitute yet another form of logical organization across the work’s three main divisions. These calligraphically-defined units and the chapters they include are: (1) the creation or “first age” of the world (chapters 1-3); (2) the history of the Roman Catholic papacy (chapter 4); (3) the origins or “first age” of the “Indians that God brought to this New World”(chapter 5); (4) the “fifth age” of the Indians of the world, that is, the history of the Inkas (chapters 6-18); (5) “CONquista,” or the conquest of Peru by the Spanish that includes the listing of the viceroys and the other entities of the “buen gobierno” (chapters 19-20); (6) the “history” of the various Spanish social groups in the viceroyalty, arranged in hierarchical order (chapters 21-27, 31); (7) the “history” of the various Andean social categories, also defined according to criteria of hierarchy and rank (chapters 28-30); (8) the survey of the cities and towns of the kingdom (chapter 33); (9) the listing of the royal inns, or tanpu, on the royal road (chapter 35); and (10) the chapter of the months of the year (chapter 37).

Consistent with the decimal-ordering system of Andean culture, Guaman Poma has organized his work at its deepest level according to the ten-part order that we find in several other creative instances in his book: the five (Augustinian) ages of the Judeo-Christian world which parallel his five ages of the indigenous Andean world (actual pages 22-32, 48-85); the decimal order of the Andean age-grade census presented in chapter 10 (actual pages 195-236); and, at the beginning of his chapter of moral “Considerations,” his evocation of ten, past-to-present ages of the Andean world. This last text begins with the ancient “first age” of the Indians and concludes with the current, tenth era, defined by Guaman Poma with a Quechua utterance: “our Christianity emerges and prospers” (actual page 925).

Within the ten-part organization of his work Guaman Poma gives prominence to the “Conquista” division, but there is no mention whatsoever of the “Buen gobierno”: There is no “Buen gobierno” entry in the “Tabla,” either in reference to the two-thirds of the work that appears under that title or to its important inaugural chapter (chapter 20). The viceroys and other civil and ecclesiastical officers that appear in the “Buen gobierno” chapter are placed under the heading “CONquista,” which is the fifth main entry of the ten that appear in the “Tabla.” In this context, Guaman Poma presents the civil and ecclesiastical leadership of viceregal Peru simply as the continuation of the succession of conquerors and (legal and illegal) governors that began with Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro. This is a strikingly subdued presentation, at best, of the offices of “good government.” Before the manuscript left his hands, however, Guaman Poma would reconsider the interpretation of viceregal governance implied by the “Tabla.” He would dramatically amend chapter 20 so as to represent by its means the most exemplary values of moral political authority (see Sections 4.3, 4.5, below).

3.6  Textual “Completion”
The construction of the “Tabla,” that is, the elaboration of its prose entries, undoubtedly constituted Guaman Poma’s near-final task in creating the text of the body of his book. After his painstakingly thoughtful creation of the “Tabla,” he went on to more mechanical and mundane tasks: sewing the book, paginating it, and entering a catchword at the bottom of each page.

The pagination was clearly done after the manuscript was sewn.  This is indicated, as mentioned (Section 2.4), by the occasional ink blots that appear on the final, verso page of a quire, made after the page number was entered on the facing recto page (the first of the following quire), and the recto page turned before the ink was dry.  Alternatively, the ink blot is sometimes found on the recto page, caused by the facing verso-page entry. The catchwords exhibit the same phenomenon between quires, with verso-page ink blots caused by recto-page catchwords (see actual pages 901 and 902 at the meeting point of quires 17 and 18 for an example). Hence, it is clear that the entry of the catchwords also occurred after the manuscript was sewn. It is likely that Guaman Poma entered the catchwords and the page numbers in two successive, systematic operations and that they constituted the last steps in the full (at the time, final, but in the end provisional) elaboration of the manuscript.

With the pagination completed, Guaman Poma went on to fill in the page numbers that corresponded to the “Tabla” entries. The difficulty of belatedly entering these numbers, indicated by the way they are accommodated in tight spaces or appear outside Guaman Poma’s conventional text block, reveals that this was the final and separate step in the preparation of the “Tabla”(Section 2.4). All the page numbers in the “Tabla” are the original ones, including the page numbers of the three last chapters that became obsolete after the addition of “Camina el autor.”

3.7.  Repaginating Four Chapters to Compensate for a Previous Error
As Guaman Poma was completing his book by entering the page numbers into the “Tabla,” he likely discovered that he had repeated a sequence of ten numbers, and he subsequently attempted to rectify the error at another location, beginning the correction at his page 986, which he modified to 996. As a result of this repagination, I questioned whether previously there had been a short chapter tucked in between the pages of the manuscript that Guaman Poma numbered 985 and 996 (actual pages 1003 and 1004). Yet there appeared “no evidence of pages having been added or removed from this place in the manuscript” (Adorno 1979-80, 18). The Royal Library’s recent codicological survey confirms my earlier assessment: there is no evidence to suggest a one-time insertion or deletion of a unit of five additional sheets, the equivalent of ten pages, at this or any other point. (Only one sheet has been excised; see Sections 4.1 and 4.3, below.)

As all readers of the online edition can appreciate, Guaman Poma originally numbered the page where the ten-page modification begins as 986. At a later point in time, subsequent to his entry of page numbers in the already prepared “Tabla,” he changed 986 to 996 and continued repaginating the manuscript through his page 1109. This portion of the work, chapters 33, 34, 35, and 37, consisted of the presentation of the cities and towns, the past chronicles, the inns on the royal road, and the months of the year through the first page of the September entry, which is the first sheet of quire 25. This repagination affected actual pages 1004-1065, 1068-1103, and 1140-1165 only, because it occurred prior to the insertion of the sheet on the Potosí silver mines and the chapter “Camina el autor,” which occupy actual pages 1066-1067 and 1104-1139.

At this repagination juncture in his book, Guaman Poma made another adjustment. He changed the catchword on his page 985 from “todas” (in reference to “todas las ciudades” on page 986-cum-996) to “capítulo,” which refers to “capítulo primero de las ciudades y villas,” which is found on page 987-cum-997. While the cancelled catchword on page 985, “todas,” was the formal marker denoting, in conventional fashion, the content of page 986, its replacement by “capítulo,” referring to page 987, must have been considered by Guaman Poma to be a logical marker, signifying that the chapter of cities and towns began on that page. His “Tabla” entry for the chapter confirms it: he wrote “987,” not “986,” to indicate the page on which the chapter of cities and towns was to begin. Thus he considered the prose presentation of page 986 to be a preliminary announcement; for him, the chapter proper began on the following page in his conventional manner: a full-page drawing over which appears the title “capítulo primero de” (“first chapter of”; see actual pages 1004-1005, 1186).

Since there is no evidence of either a planned or an excised chapter, the only possible explanation for Guaman Poma’s ten-page correction is his discovery of an inadvertent repetition of a series of ten numbers at some point in his book. There is precisely such a case.  Although the consecutive repetition of 523-532 is not the only sequence of repeated numbers, the repetition of page numbers 154-155 (actual pages 154-157) might not have attracted his notice because the repetition occurs in the middle of a chapter. Pages 523-532 drew his attention because, while entering the page number for his “historia de los españoles” at the top of the “Tabla’s” actual page 1186 and locating its beginning on his page 534, he was led to the site of the error.

His “historia de los españoles,” the full title of which is, in English translation, the “history of the Spaniards and soldiers and ladies of this kingdom and Castile,” has as its theme the corpulence and laziness of these subjects. The chapter begins on his page 534 (actual page 548) with a picture of a Spanish couple, grotesquely exaggerated in size and bulk, and he entered the number 534 into the “Tabla.”  The consecutive, duplicated series of page numbers he now discovered near that point corresponded to: (1) his accounts of civil administrators (corregidores’ lieutenants, provincial judges, and notaries), miners, and mining administrators (actual pages 527-536), and (2) miners, majordomos, and wayfaring Spaniards, taking this last account through its antepenultimate page (actual pages 537-546). (These various units appear under the general title of corregimiento, or colonial Indian administration, in chapter 21 of the online table of contents.)

Attempting some kind of correction of this error was consistent with Guaman Poma’s comparable, later effort to renumber the final thirty-nine pages of the body of his manuscript (the chapter of the months of the year and the one-page admonition to the Christian reader [actual pages 1140-1178]), after he had inserted in front of them the “Camina el autor” chapter (actual pages 1104-1139). In the case of the repeated sequence 523-532, however, Guaman Poma’s problem would be to determine just where best to make the ten-page correction. It would be a herculean task to begin at the second of the pages numbered 523 (actual page 537), because this would require renumbering approximately half the pages of the manuscript book. It would be better to do it somewhat late in the work, but by what criteria?  Here we must ask what pages or sections of his manuscript he especially would have wanted to avoid marring with clumsy renumbering. Since this was to be the presentation copy of his work destined for the king, we can guess that he would want his important “dialogue” with the monarch (chapter 32) to retain its graphic integrity. The same can be said, even more emphatically, for his desire to keep intact his exquisite, elaborate mapamundi.

These considerations bring us, after the verso page which follows the mapamundi and closes the discussion of it (Guaman Poma’s page 985, actual page 1003), precisely to his page 986 (actual page 1004), which announces the following page’s commencement of the chapter on the cities and towns. Given the undesirablity of any previous sites for the purpose, his page 986 provided a plausible starting-point for the ten-page correction. It follows the texts that he presumably wished to retain as pristinely as possible, and it begins the series of only four chapters that, at that point in time, concluded the book (“cities and towns;” “past chronicles,” “inns, or tanpu, on the royal road;” “months of the year” ). “Camina el autor” would be added later (see Section 4.2).

On 15 February 1615, Guaman Poma wrote a letter to king Philip III from Santiago de Chipao, in the southern Peruvian province of Lucanas where he most likely spent his years of exile, announcing that he had completed a book that he wished to dispatch to the monarch.  Somewhat arbitrarily, we may consider this date to mark the “completion” of the work. The date is arbitrary insofar as it may not coincide with Guaman Poma’s actual assessment that his work was completed. Additionally, he may have already started making emendations to his text by that date. Apart from his repagination of 124 pages at the end of his book, he may well have effected some of his other revisions prior to leaving Lucanas for Lima during the autumn (February or March) of 1615. Most of his emendations can be identified only as being subsequent to his sewing and pagination of the manuscript, without regard to whether they were made in provincial Lucanas or in Lima, where new information might have become available to him. Other modifications, such as most of the extensive revisions he made to chapter 20, are clearly attributable to the period subsequent to his arrival to Lima, from sometime in the first half of 1615 through at least the early months of 1616. Of all these changes, the most intriguing one, and the one least possible to identify with regard to the site of its execution, is the portrait of the viceroy Montesclaros, to be considered below.


4. Final Renderings: The Coordination of Codicological and Textual Evidence

To the degree that we can recognize them, the final phases of Guaman Poma’s work are of great interest because they reveal his preoccupations as an author and artist as he drew his project to a close in 1615 and 1616. What were his final pursuits?  What new or renewed aims emerged as time, resources, energy, and opportunity ran out?  This is a question that might be put to any author, but in Guaman Poma’s circumstances as a Spanish-speaking Andean and a self-proclaimed “author and prince” in early colonial Peru, it takes on particular urgency. The question and its answers fully reveal the individuality of Guaman Poma’s authorship and the single-minded integrity of the work that he produced. 

On the issue of late revisions, the Royal Library’s codicological survey has allowed me to extend substantially my earlier conclusions about Guaman Poma’s emendation of this final, presentation copy of his autograph manuscript. In particular, the new information underscores the consistency and coherence with which Guaman Poma carried out the task of preparing this final copy. His meticulousness reveals his continual effort to produce a work that was internally coherent and complete, correcting earlier oversights or mistakes. At the same time, he made other judgments based on artistic criteria. In this regard, his thinking was as nuanced as that of any modern author and artist taking into consideration the demands of content and the prerogatives of design while managing each situation on its merits in light of complex criteria that sometimes conflicted with one another. The most impressive demonstration of his management of diverse, sometimes conflicting objectives is his repeated emendation of chapter 20 (actual pages 438-490), “on good government.”

I reconstruct below Guaman Poma’s progress through the final phases of his work’s preparation as he coped with diminishing resources and balanced his two highest priorities as author and scribe: first, to honor the requirements of content, providing important new information as he concluded his work, and, second, to satisfy the demands of esthetics by creating a homogeneous, harmonious manuscript book worthy of presentation to Philip III.

Overall, the need to balance the criteria of textual content and graphic beauty explains many of the apparent contradictions in the later phases of Guaman Poma’s execution of his work. I have long thought that his particular kinds of emendation to the final manuscript (marginal notations, added sheets, etc.) could be explained on the basis of an increasing shortage of writing materials. Today we know that there are a number of small quires fabricated out of single sheets (Section 1.1., above). And now we also know that there is only one example in the whole book (after it was bound) of deletion and rewriting—the successive Montesclaros portraits, to be considered below (Section 4.1)—which shows that Guaman Poma would allow himself to use fresh paper only if the issue were of the greatest importance to him.

The threat of a dwindling paper supply placed severe limitations on his freedom to choose among a range of options while reviewing his manuscript. It had a considerable impact on how, when faced with a wish to update it, he was forced to weigh the competing priorities of economy (Could the new message be limited to a correction to an existing page?), content (Could the new message be communicated fully, and how could the possibilities of misunderstanding be reduced?), and esthetics (Could the correction be made less obtrusive by grafting the new message onto the old one?).

4.1. Guaman Poma’s Additions to the Completed Manuscript
After completing the composition of his work, its emendation was an equally complex process, and there are several kinds of evidence for it: (1) significant variations in ink color; (2) overwritten decorative lines and flourishes that appear, colophon-like, in the lower portion of many prose pages; and (3) the cramped handwriting style that appears at the lower margin of many pages because the heel of Guaman Poma’s writing hand had to rest inches below the bottom edge of the writing surface of his already-sewn, fat book.

Some emendations were done in series, in a single sitting. A particular modification to the accounts of the viceroys of Peru in the “buen gobierno” chapter, for example, was carried out in this manner. In Guaman Poma’s lower-margin annotations spelling out the years of rule of each of the viceroys, we find that the difference in the color of ink from the main body of the text, together with the less fluid handwriting style, reveals the practice. See also Sections 4.3.1 and 4.5, below.

These various means account for the dozens of emendations that Guaman Poma made to his completed work. Table 3 summarizes Guaman Poma’s textual emendations, combining in columns 4-6 my previously published findings (Adorno 1979-80, 17, 27, notes 9 and 11; Adorno 1980, xlvi) together with those, in columns 2 and 3, of the Royal Library’s recent codicological survey.

Table 3: Summary of Textual Emendations and Sheets Added to, and Excised from, the Primary Quire Structure


sheets added to quires

sheets excised from quires

textual emendations: new information

textual emendations: modification of substance

textual emendations: reiterations and/or new recommendations for colonial reform

 ch 1: The first new chronicle




pp. 5, 11


ch. 2: “How God ordained the writing of this book”




pp. 14, 15, 17, 20


ch. 4: the popes and their reigns



pp. 36, 38, 43


pp. 34, 45, 47

ch. 6: the Inkas



pp. 89, 97

p. 111

p. 91

ch. 7: the queens, or quya



pp. 131, 133, 143


pp. 121, 129

ch. 8: the Inka’s captains and their noble ladies



pp. 197, 199, 201, 203, 205, 207, 209, 211, 213, 215, 218, 220, 222, 224, 226, 228, 230, 232, 234, 236

p. 168

pp. 196, 198, 200, 202, 204, 206, 208, 210, 212, 214, 217, 219, 221, 223, 225, 227, 229, 231, 233, 235

ch. 11: the months of the year



pp. 239, 241, 243



ch. 19: the Spanish conquest and civil wars



pp. 389, 415, 420

pp. 411, 412, 413, 414


ch. 20: “good government”

a single sheet with flap, pp. 466-467;

another single sheet with flap, pp. 474-475

a single sheet, cut out from between pp. 473 and 474

pp. 438, 440, 446, 464, 466-467, 468, 470, 472, 474


pp. 459, 477-478, 483, 485, 487, 488

ch. 21: colonial Indian administration (corregimiento)





pp. 535, 547, 549-550, 551, 553, 555

ch. 23: parish priests

a composite double sheet (not pasted), pp. 636-637 and 646-647


p. 687


pp. 639, 643-644, 649, 651, 688, 691

ch. 25: black Africans





pp. 717, 724, 725

ch. 26: censure, reprimand, and satirical dialogues





pp. 727, 731

ch. 28: princes, native lords, and other hereditary Andean ranks

a composite double sheet (unpasted), pp. 904-905, completed by pp. 958-959, below




pp. 753, 755, 759, 761, 763, 765, 767, 769, 771, 773

ch. 30: “the Indians of this kingdom”





pp. 857, 869, 909-910, 921

ch. 31: religious and moral considerations

pp. 958-959, a composite double sheet (unpasted), completed by pp. 904-905, above





ch. 32: Guaman Poma’s dialogue with the king

a regular double sheet, pp. 978-981




pp. 977, 978-981, 981-982, 987-988

ch. 33: this kingdom and its cities and towns

a single sheet with flap, pp. 1066-1067


p. 1008


pp. 1005-1006, 1007, 1083-1084

ch. 36: the author’s journey to Lima



pp. 1104-1139



As summarized above in Table 3, the seven additions of sheets to the already-assembled quires are constituted as follows (see also Section 1.1.2):

Table 4: Sheets Added to the Completed Manuscript


quire number

page numbers (actual)


sheet variants and modes of binding (= integrated into the quire before sewing or attached afterward)




single sheet with flap; attached by pasting




single sheet with flap; attached by stitching



636-637 + 646-647

two single sheets with flaps not pasted together, i.e., a composite double sheet; integrated



904-905 + 958-959

two single sheets with flaps, i.e., a composite double sheet (only one flap partly visible after binding); integrated




double sheet; attached by pasting




single sheet with flap, integrated into previously sewn quire by stitching and pasting




single sheet with flap; attached by pasting

Here is a description of the contents of these seven insertions, organized by the entry number in the left-hand column, above:

(1) Guaman Poma inserted a single sheet with flap to accommodate the presentation of Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna, the marquis of Montesclaros, as viceroy of Peru (actual pages 474 and 475; see Figure 8). This inserted sheet in quire 10 (chapter 20) replaces a sheet cut out at the same place in the manuscript (see Section 4.3, below). Guaman Poma pasted in this single-sheet replacement after he had sewn and paginated the full manuscript and prepared the “Tabla de la dicha corónica” in which he had entered Montesclaros’ name, identifying him as the ninth viceroy of Peru, and marked down the page number of the Montesclaros entry (see actual page 1185).  He numbered the new sheet, as he had its predecessor, as 470-471 (actual pages 474-475). 

(2) Guaman Poma inserted another single sheet into the quire 10 (chapter 20) gallery of viceroys after he had sewn and paginated the manuscript and prepared the Tabla. This second addition precedes the Montesclaros entry in sequential page order of the bound book, but follows it in the sequence of his textual emendations. It was clearly made after the author had arrived in Lima with his “completed” manuscript. Significantly, the author never paginated this inserted sheet, and it bears the same watermark (Latin Cross over AI; see Section 1.2, above) as does the “Camina el autor” chapter, which was also written after Guaman Poma arrived in Lima (see Section 4.2, below). This inserted sheet is an account of  the previously overlooked tenure in office of Don Fernando de Torres y Portugal (1586-1589) (actual pages 466-467; Figure 10). The late introduction of the Torres y Portugal entry is also evidenced by the fact that it does not appear in the “Tabla” listing of viceroys (see actual page 1185). This sheet was inserted into the manuscript by stitching.

The Torres y Portugal insertion into the completed and bound manuscript at the time of the writing of the “Camina el autor” chapter in Lima results in the change in numerical listing that Guaman Poma subsequently made in the four viceregal portraits that follow it (actual pages 468, 470, 472, 474).  Thus, on both pages of the Montesclaros replacement entry mentioned above, where Guaman Poma had initially identified Montesclaros as the ninth viceroy, he now struck out “ninth” and wrote beneath it “tenth.” Guaman Poma did not repeat this plus-one adjustment in the already completed “Tabla” entries of the four viceroys.

(3) Prior to the sewing and pagination of his manuscript, Guaman Poma inserted into the yet unbound quire 13 a composite double sheet, that is, two single sheets with flaps (not pasted together). Symmetrically arranged in the quire structure, this addition became actual pages 636-637 and 646-647. Guaman Poma no doubt made this two-sheet insertion in anticipation of the need for additional space in elaborating his lengthy chapter on the parish priests of Peru (chapter 23). He appears to have intended his customary “prologue” to fill the two final pages of quire 13 (actual pages 672-673), but he used a third page as well, recto page 674, which was the first sheet of quire 14, to complete it. Thus he began his new section on native church officers, introduced by a drawing, on the verso (actual page 675). (This unit is identified as the final subsection of chapter 23, entitled “The native assistants of the parish.”)

(4) Also prior to the sewing and pagination of his manuscript, Guaman Poma added in quire 18 a composite double sheet, that is, two single sheets, symmetrically placed in the quire (actual pages 904-905 and 958-959). In this instance, only one flap remains partially visible. Two of these four additional pages became part of his chapter on “the Indians of this kingdom”; the other two went into his chapter of religious and moral “Considerations,” in chapters 30 and 31, respectively. Added to the yet unbound quire, these sheets were inserted prior to the redaction of these chapters, because the content and form of both presentations are continuous with, and fully integrated into, the texts in which they appear.

(5) In quire 19, Guaman Poma added a double sheet to his “dialogue” with king Philip III (actual pages 978-981). He made this addition after sewing and paginating the manuscript; he pasted it into the bound manuscript and left it unnumbered. Appearing on actual pages 978 and 980, the “962b” and “962c” represent foliation instead of Guaman Poma’s characteristic pagination. They were obviously introduced by another hand, probably during the 1927 operation to unbind the manuscript and rearrange its misordered quires (Section 2.3, above).  In this four-page addition Guaman Poma reiterated one of his most dwelt-upon themes: priestly abuses, in this case, the injustice of priests seeking tribute payments from Andean communities as salary. He used these new pages to harangue against priests who went to Peru to “seek silver instead of to save souls.”

(6) In quire 20, he added a single sheet to extend his vigorous commentary on the silver mines of Potosí (actual pages 1066 and 1067). On the recto (1066) he depicted the coat of arms of La Plata, the seat of the royal Audiencia, or highest civil and criminal court in its jurisdiction, and, on the verso (1067), he presented a prose text emphasizing the central role in the fortunes of Spain played by the mines of Potosí as the “flower and eye, or, to put it more properly, heart of this [Spanish] kingdom.”

Guaman Poma made this addition after sewing and paginating the manuscript, and he left it unnumbered.  The lateness of its insertion is attested by the fact that, when he renumbered the last chapters of his manuscript to adjust for his ten-page error in pagination, these pages, like the “Camina el autor” chapter, were excluded (see Section 3.7, above). We can infer that actual pages 1066-1067 and 1104-1139 were not part of the renumbering project because he added them to the manuscript still later. 

The introduction of the 1066-1067 sheet is unique in the manuscript because while it was clearly a very late addition, it was nevertheless “integrated” into the already sewn manuscript because its flap appears in the other half of the quire.  Because the absence of pagination and catchword suggests the attachment or graft of the sheet onto the completed quire, and, paradoxically, the appearance of the sheet’s flap in the other half of the quire suggests its integration into the quire before sewing, we can only conclude that Guaman Poma himself tucked (but did not paste) the sheet into the quire and that it was integrated into the quire, by sewing and pasting, in a post-Guaman Poma binding operation.

(7) After the end of the “Tabla de la dicha corónica” Guaman Poma added a single sheet, pasting it onto the last page of quire 26 (actual pages 1188-1189).  Although the outer upper corner of the sheet is worn away, it is unlikely that it would have carried a page number since it follows the unpaginated “Tabla.” He used this sheet to close his book, and it is probable that he added it to the already paginated and bound manuscript. On the recto (1188; Figure 11) he created a typical colophon, identifying the work’s author by name, titles, origin, and location: “Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, prince, author, of the Indies of the kingdom of Peru, of the city and environs of San Cristóbal de Suntunto, New Castile, of the province of the Andamarcas, Soras, Lucanas of the royal crown of the City of Kings of Lima, royal court and principal city of Peru” (“Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, príncipe, autor, de las Indias del reyno del Pirú, de la ciudad y medio de San Cristóbal de Suntunto, Nueva Castilla, de la provincia de los Andamarcas, Soras, Lucanas de la corona real de la ciudad de los Reys de Lima, corte real y cabesa del Pirú”). He then composed a dedication statement, which remains blank with respect to the date and name of the designated recipient, the phrase “the lords”/“los señores” being subsequently cancelled: “It was presented before the lords. . .” (“Se presentó ante los señores . . .”  ).

On the verso he drew the coat of arms of Castile and León (1189; Figure 12). Presented in smaller versions on the frontispiece and on actual page 1065, this coat of arms is embellished here as on page 1065 with the Latin motto, “Ego fulcio columnas eius” (“I fortify its columns”), in a reference to how the “Indies of Peru” sustained Spain economically, notably, as portrayed here, through mining production (see also Section 4.3.2, below). 

Here (p. 1189) the manuscript book ends, but not its author’s final efforts.

4.2. Guaman Poma’s Late Introduction of Quires 22 and 23, “Camina el autor”
The most noteworthy late addition to the completed manuscript, “Camina el autor,” details Guaman Poma’s final journey to deliver his completed manuscript to the viceregal court. Twenty years ago, I judged this chapter to be a late addition to the manuscript on the basis of its textual references to events that occurred subsequent to Guaman Poma’s arrival in Lima, its absence from Guaman Poma’s “Tabla de la dicha corónica,” and the fact that Guaman Poma had renumbered the pages of  the following chapter on the months of the year (Adorno 1979-80, 27, note 13). Today, the new codicological evidence completes the analysis: “Camina el autor” (chapter 36) is the exclusive occupant of two quires, numbered 22 and 23 (actual pages 1104-1131 and 1132-1139, respectively), and they and the single-sheet Torres y Portugal insertion bear a common watermark that is not found anywhere else in the manuscript (see Section 1.2, above). 

If in Lima Guaman Poma revised his “Buen gobierno” chapter by adding the Torres y Portugal entry, in Lima, too, he wrote “Camina el autor,” which he concluded with an account of how in that city he secured a house and paid twenty reales a month in rent as a “poor man, and for other poor people whom he carried with him, out of the love of God” (“Y en la dicha ciudad alquiló una casa y le pagó por cada mes ueynte rreales como pobre y para otros pobres que trayya concigo por amor de Dios”; actual page 1136). This autobiographical account was a freestanding unit, a chapter made up of two quires unattached to the manuscript. He prepared no chapter more carefully than this most vulnerable one. Its vulnerablity centered on: (1) the impossibility of introducing it into the completed “Tabla;” (2) its reliance on an already-used number sequence, “1094-1129,” which previously corresponded to the chapter of the months of the year that was now to follow it; and (3) the precariousness of its insertion before the final chapter of a “closed” manuscript.

No doubt anticipating the risk of misplacement or loss of this very important account of the revelations of his journey to Lima, Guaman Poma sought a solution for securing it beyond his usual means of pagination and a catchword at the foot of every page. He wrote out, over the upper margins of all its pages, a continuous narrative running head that summarized not only the content of the chapter but also the position as advocate and witness that he took throughout the entire work. His use of this additional device was not original to him, but it stands as the unique instance in his work:

The author walks through the sierra with much snow, and he passes through Castrovirreina, Chocllococha, Huancavelica, the Valley of Jauja, and the province of Huarochirí. The said author Ayala, serving His Majesty for thirty years, leaving his children and losing his estate, all in the service of God and His Majesty, favoring the poor of Jesus Christ. He walked through the world, weeping the entire way, until presenting himself in the City of Kings of Lima before His Majesty and His Royal Audiencia, to present himself and to finish the said Chronicle of this kingdom, composed by Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala.

Camina el autor por la cie[r]ra con mucha nieve, i pasa por Castrovireina, Chocllo Cocha, Guanca Bilca, Valle de Xauxa, y provincia de Uarochirí. El dicho autor Ayala, servi[e]ndo a su Magestad treinta años, dejando sus hijos i perder mucha hazienda, sólo en servicio de Dios y de su Magestad, favor de los pobres de Jesucristo. Anduvo en el mundo llorando en todo el camino hasta presentarse en los Rei[e]s de Lima ante Su Magestad i Su Real Audiencia, de presentarse i cumplil [sic] con la dicha Corónica deste reino, conpuesto por Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala.

Although this measure could provide the reader with a means of keeping the two quires of this chapter in proper sequential order (it did not succeed, as we saw above, Section 2.3), it could not guarantee its proper, permanent placement within the manuscript. In other words, the running head provided an internal means capable of ordering the chapter within itself and identifying it as part of a chronicle authored by Guaman Poma, but it could not describe its own placement within the larger work. 

What, then, might have been Guaman Poma’s purpose in creating this “tale within a tale” or, rather, “tale of the tale” narrative device?  Although there was no space to insert the mention of this new chapter in his “Tabla,” Guaman Poma most likely created this elaborate running head so that it could be introduced into the printed version of the “Tabla” if his book were published. Since it was composed of complete utterances, it had a syntactic elasticity that lent it to use, in whole or in part, as an entry in a projected print version of the “Tabla de la dicha corónica.” 

The importance of the “Camina el autor” chapter is contained in the devastating revelations that it conveys about what Guaman Poma encountered on the road to Lima, notably the extirpation of idolatries campaigns carried out by Francisco de Ávila, and the presence of highwaymen, rogues, and vagabonds at every turn.  Once in Lima, the dissipation of Andeans living in the city, especially regarding men detached from their ethnic communities and responsibilities, and women, engaged in concubinage with Spaniards and others, drew his stern condemnation.

The close reading of “Camina el autor” alongside dozens of his bottom-marginal annotations, particularly in the Buen gobierno, reveals that the observations and experiences that prompted him to write this chapter also resulted in further, insistent emendations throughout his work (see Table 3, above).  Philological and textual evidence supports my assertion.  The “q” that replaces the “c” in many but not all instances in “Camina el autor” is also found in the late marginal notations, for example: “cinqüenta” and “qüenta;” “qumple” and “qura” (actual pages 525, 1115; 725, 1107).  This distinctive orthographic variation points to the simultaneous or nearly simultaneous production of the “Camina el autor” and marginal texts. 

The simultaneous, late creation of this narrational chapter and the marginal notations is also confirmed by thematic correspondences. He now recommends, for example, that the Jesuits, who had been so much the object of his praise, should remove themselves from lay society and live secluded from the world (actual pages 483, 1122).  His late emendation about the pestilence in the cities is obviously another post-Lima entry, as are: his warnings that Andeans should not be allowed to become beggars in the cities, “for they will become drunkards;” his admonition that Andeans should wear their own traditional garb, not European clothes; and his citation of the viceroy Toledo’s ordinances prohibiting Spaniards from living in Andean communities (actual pages 1083-1084; 857, 1138; 553, 1125; 921, 1125-1126). Guaman Poma’s “Camina el autor” was a major though late contribution to his work, and the fact that its new revelations prompted reiterations of many of its central points as marginal notations underscores the importance with which he imbued it.

One might suppose that Guaman Poma would have desired to present as the final chapter of his book this narrated journey and its devastating overview of the evils of colonialism in city and countryside. Such was not the case. On material grounds, it was impossible to make “Camina el autor” the concluding chapter because the “Tabla de la dicha corónica,” which would have followed it, begins in the middle of a quire and on a verso page, leaving no space in which to make a stitched insertion. He was able, instead, to place the two quires of “Camina el autor” after quire 21 (at the end of chapter 35), which conveniently ends on a verso page.

On textual grounds, this placement of “Camina el autor” as the penultimate chapter of the book suited Guaman Poma. The preceding chapter 35, listing the inns on the royal road, provided an appropriate context for the precise itinerary Guaman Poma followed from the Andean highlands to the coast as well as his remarks pertaining to shorter travels that preceded it.  Additionally, “Camina el autor” ends with a series of minor observations and recommendations; Guaman Poma clearly did not intend it to be a new conclusion to his work. For that purpose, he had already created his finale presentation, “Ojos i ánima huelgo” [“I rest my eyes and spirit at the end of a fatiguing work”].

Occupying a prominent recto position (actual page 1178), “I rest my eyes and spirit” offers a final, thunderous admonition to the reader:

See here, Christians of the world, some will weep and others will laugh, others will curse and others will commend me to God; others in pure rage will undo themselves. Others will want to have this book and chronicle in their hands to restrain their will and conscience and heart and live under the law of God by the Ten Commandments . . . . And thus this chronicle is for the whole world and all of Christianity; even infidels shoud see it for its right justice and order and law in the world. 

Ues aquí, cristianos del mundo, unos llorarán, otros se rreyrá, otros maldirá, otros encomendarme a Dios, otros de puro enojo se deshará, otros querrá tener en las manos este libro y corónica para enfrenar su ánima y consencia y corasón y bibirá en la ley de Dios de los Dies Mandamientos. . . . Y ací esta corónica es para todo el mundo y cristiandad; hasta los ynfieles se deue uello para la dicha buena justicia y pulicía y ley del mundo.

This prophetic declaration of the book’s imagined destiny had been formulated by Guaman Poma specifically to close his work, and so it was to remain. Its hortative character was crucial to the author’s purposes, as is evident in other late additions to his work, notably, the replacement portrait of the viceroy Montesclaros (see Section 4.3.2, below).

4.3. A Sheet Cut Out and Replaced:  Montesclaros’ Governance and the Buen gobierno
Among Guaman Poma’s additions and corrections to the text of the completed Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, there is only one case of textual deletion and replacement in the entire manuscript: Guaman Poma’s successive portraits of Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna, the marquis of Montesclaros. This occurs between actual pages 473 and 476, as is evidenced by the two visible “flaps,” the second of which belongs to the newly inserted single sheet that became actual pages 474 and 475 (see Section 1.1.2). This second flap allowed Guaman Poma to tuck the new single sheet of which it was a part into the already “closed” quire in a way that made possible its later secure attachment by stitching.

Quire 10, into which the insertions of the single sheets that became pages 466-467 and 474-475 were made, is unremarkable in every other way. It exhibits the frequently repeated quire structure of thirteen sheets, and all its other sheets are part of the primary quire structure (see Section 1.1.1, above). Because these insertions are anomalous occurrences in an altogether commonplace setting, they demand our attention.

The codicological structure and the contents of the chapter on “good government” reveal that it was produced in three phases: first, the sheets of the quire were written and drawn upon and assembled, then the single sheet of the new pages 474 and 475 was inserted, replacing the excised earlier sheet “474/475,” and, finally, the single sheet constituting pages 466 and 467 was added (see Figures 8 and 10 respectively). The discreteness and order of this three-phase assembly is borne out, significantly, by the respective appearances of the first, second, and third Latin Cross watermarks in these three distinct environments (see Section 1.2, above).

From this repeated reworking of the “buen gobierno” chapter, it is clear that the topic of viceregal governance took on ever greater importance for Guaman Poma as he labored over it, making corrections as he received new information and readjusted his immediate goals. To set the stage for the full account of his exceptional emendation of this chapter, we must take a closer look at Guaman Poma’s level of engagement, in general, with the actions of viceregal administration at its highest level.

4.3.1. The Role of the Viceroy
When Guaman Poma prepared his “Tabla de la dicha corónica” (see actual pages 1184 and 1185), he set out the contents but not the title of chapter 20, “of good government.” As we saw earlier in Section 3.5, his entries consisted of the viceroys in succession as a continuation of the list of Spanish conquerors and early (official and unofficial) rulers of Peru, all listed under the heading “CONquista,” the fifth segment in his ten-part division of the work presented in the “Tabla” (See Figure 9b). We discover through his emendation of the work, notably the replacement Montesclaros text, that Guaman Poma modified the implicitly negative connotations about viceregal rule conveyed in the “Tabla” in order to foreground and elevate the role of the viceroys.

As the “Tabla”entries indicate, chapter 20 consists of the civil and ecclesiatical hierarchies of Spanish colonial governance. First appears the civil hierarchy, that is, an incomplete but comprehensive series of the viceroys from the first, Blasco Núñez Vela (1544-1546), through the eleventh, the marqués de Montesclaros (1607-1615). Guaman Poma followed this presentation of the viceroys with that of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of archbishops and bishops, the officers of the Inquisition, the heads of religious orders, and the institution of religious hermitage. He concluded the chapter by returning to the topic of civil governance, drawing a picture of the conciliar offices of the royal Audiencia, that is, the “president, judges, royal council of His Majesty of this kingdom.” He followed it with a prose text that lamented the current state of affairs of governance and ended the chapter with an unusually brief “prologue” to the pope and the king (actual pages 488-490). All told, the contents of this chapter are paradoxical. He recounts presumably exemplary conduct on the part of most viceregal officials and then ends the chapter with a scathing account of the injustices suffered by Andeans and a direct injunction to the pope and the king about their responsibility to remedy them.

In this disparity between ideal colonial governance and actual colonial practice that Guaman Poma sets up, the role of the viceroy—we discover—is key. The viceroy must implement crown policies; the king can save Peru only through the appointment of worthy and hard-working individuals to that office, and the holders of that office must inform themselves of the state of affairs in their jurisdictions (as evidenced by Guaman Poma’s emphatic approval of viceregal inspection tours of the territories governed). The viceroy must seek and administer justice with complete integrity. Guaman Poma’s portrayal of viceroys is completely serious; they are never the object of his satire, even if they become the object of his sharp criticism for specific deeds. Despite our common tendency to emphasize Guaman Poma’s literary engagement with the institution of the monarchy, his conceptual focus is riveted on the role of the viceroy. We observe this in the fact that Guaman Poma’s discussion of viceregal governance is more specific than generic, despite the fact that it is incomplete.

It is true that in his cavalcade of viceroys Guaman Poma missed altogether the decade of the 1560s, failing to present the tenure of the fourth viceroy, Diego López de Zúñiga y Velasco, the count of Nieva (1561-1564), as well as the term in office of the licenciado Lope García de Castro (1564-1569), who ruled as “governor, captain general, and president of the royal Audiencia” after the assassination of the count of Nieva in February, 1564 (Adorno 1980, xlii). Despite his unfamiliarity with this early period of viceregal governance, Guaman Poma nevertheless demonstrated specific and even considerable knowledge of later viceroys who had been, in one way or another, closer to his personal experience. It is useful to set forth these instances, insofar as they reveal Guaman Poma’s intentions to “get matters right,” particularly in regard to the presentation of the last viceroy to rule during the writing of his book. His dogged persistence also reveals his desire to emphasize the importance of the personages of royal civil governance in general.

Guaman Poma’s most vivid recollections are of the viceroys Francisco de Toledo (1569-1581) and Luis de Velasco (1596-1604). He lauded Toledo for the general inspection tour of the viceroyalty that Toledo made at the beginning of his tenure. He described events of the viceroy’s journey from Lima to Cuzco in late 1570, including his visit to Huamanga, of which Guaman Poma seems to have been a personal observer. He praised Toledo for his legislation prohibiting Spaniards from living among the Andeans and other laws for setting limits on tribute payment. Two other historical episodes of Toledo’s rule brought Guaman Poma’s disapproval and condemnation. The first of these is found in his repeated, critical references to Toledo’s resettlement program, or reducciones, instituted to bring highland Andean communities closer to the areas where indigenous labor was needed (colonial cities, silver and mercury mines). The second is Toledo’s capture and execution of the last surviving Inka prince, Tupac Amaru (actual pages 446-454; Figure 13). (For Guaman Poma’s treatment of these events, see Adorno 2001, 34-35, 67-68.) 

Luis de Velasco is even more vividly recalled by Guaman Poma. He portrayed Velasco with the unusual feature of wearing eyeglasses, and he described some of his specific actions, such as his naval defense of Chile against the English (actual pages 470-471; Figure 14). Additionally, in his February 1615 letter to the king, Guaman Poma identified Velasco, the marquis of Salinas, as the former viceroy of Peru and current president of the Council of the Indies in Madrid, who would be able to vouch for him: “He has notice of my person from the time that he governed this kingdom” (“La [entera noticia] tiene de mi persona del tiempo que gobernó este reino”) (Guaman Poma in Adorno 2001, 86).

Since Velasco ruled from 1596 to 1604, it is likely that Guaman Poma came before him during the period of his litigation before the high civil court (the royal Audiencia) in Lima, on either or both of his 1597 and 1599 visits to appear before that body (Prado Tello and Prado Prado, eds. 1991, 375, 360, 369).  Porras Barrenechea (1948, 33) had earlier surmised that Guaman Poma was in the capital around 1600 or 1601 because of his claim of having informed Velasco about the need of the corregidores to heed the petitions and complaints filed by Andeans. Guaman Poma stated that the viceroy responded by placing a fine of one hundred pesos on offenders (actual page 832); Velasco’s ordinances of 31 July 1601 concerning corregidores had established just such a penalty.

A counterpoint to these vivid recollections is found in Guaman Poma’s early silence on Fernando de Torres y Portugal, the seventh viceroy, who in 1586 had granted the lands of Chupas in Huamanga to the Chachapoyas ethnic group against whom Guaman Poma’s family and the Tingo clan brought suit. When Guaman Poma started to participate in the litigation in the 1590s, he may have learned that Torres y Portugal had made the Chachapoyas grant (Adorno 1993, 68).  Yet if the initial absence of Torres y Portugal’s governance from Guaman Poma’s work potentially could be explained on that basis, his eventual, laudatory portrait and account of him cannot.  Hence, a simple oversight remains the best explanation.

Guaman Poma’s precise descriptive and interpretive account of the viceroy Montesclaros follows closely the pattern set for Toledo and Velasco. It includes an even more pronounced insistence on specificity because it contains the element of currency.

4.3.2. Guaman Poma’s Marqués de Montesclaros: Exemplary and Current Viceroy
Guaman Poma presents knowledge of  Montesclaros’ documented actions that he could have set down no earlier than 1609 but at a time during which Montesclaros was in full command of his rule with no transition to a successor in sight.  The notable feature of Guaman Poma’s portrait of Montesclaros is that he forecasts great deeds yet to be accomplished by the viceroy, which makes it possible for us to date the Montesclaros replacement entry before the end of 1615, when his rule ended (and of which Guaman Poma makes note on a late addition to the manuscript) (actual pages 474-475;
Figure 15). The remarkably specific information that Guaman Poma presents regarding Montesclaros’ past actions, as well as the predictive remarks he makes about Montesclaros’ future accomplishments and eventual historical reputation, makes it possible to suggest textual reelaboration as an explanation for the single sheet replacement. 

Guaman Poma started his account of Montesclaros in the conventional manner that he employed in the case of the previous viceroys, characterizing the individual’s actions generally in the preterite: “He governed in peace and favored the lords and the other poor Indians” (“gouernó pacíficamente y faboreció a los prencipales y a los demás yndios pobres”). Then he described Montesclaros’ accomplished actions, which we examine below in detail. At this point, however, Guaman Poma turned to an assessment of Montesclaros’ governance in a predictive mode: 

He has performed other very holy works in the service of God and His Majesty as a Christian and as a caballero and lord, and in the future he will perform other very great and good works which will extend even further his service to God and His Majesty. By this [example] other caballeros will follow the true and straight path. Other viceroys will be envious of the fact that this very Christian man has shown so much favor to the poor Indians in the afore-mentioned mines.  From all this, the wealth of His Majesty will be multiplied if the Indians do not die first.  God and His Majesty will be grateful to him for writing about all his holy good works and service to Our Lord and His Majesty; it will be the legacy of this very Christian caballero in this kingdom and in the world 

Y a hecho otras obras muy sanctas en seruicio de Dios y de Su Magestad como hombre cristiano y cauallero y principal. Y adelante hará otras obras muy grandes y buenas por donde creserá más el servicio de Dios y de Su Magestad, por donde otros caualleros ciguirá el camino uerdadero y derecho. Otros bizorreys tendrán enbidia de que este cristianícimo a dado tanto fabor a los pobres yndios de las dichas minas. De ello multiplicará la hazienda de Su Magestad ci no se acaua de murir los yndios.  Dios y Su Magestad le agradeserá escriuiendo toda su santa buena obra y serbicio de Dios Nuestro Señor y de Su Magestad; que será memoria en este rreyno y en el mundo deste cauallero cristianícimo.

This switch that Guaman Poma makes in this verbal portrait from the preterite to the future tense is unique.  It indicates that Montesclaros was ruling when he wrote this text and, beyond that, that Guaman Poma wanted to change his usual account of past actions, either general or specific, in order to set forth the exemplary conduct of Montesclaros as a viable, current model for imitation. Even if the “other very great and good works” that Guaman Poma envisioned for Montesclaros were metaphorical, that is, that his past deeds were to provide examples for others to follow, or if Montesclaros’ further great deeds were to be carried out after he turned over the reins of government to his successor, the forward-looking thrust of this verbal portrait is clear.

In his desire to capitalize on the didactic possibility that this viceroy’s case presented to him, Guaman Poma probably decided to scrap his previous draft, created and entered onto sheet eleven of quire 10 before the manuscript was sewn and paginated, replacing it with this unique, open-ended text oriented toward the future.  He cut out the old sheet and presumably sewed in its replacement. (Attached to the quire during subsequent re-bindings, the single sheet is still only crudely sewn into the closed quire).

Montesclaros had formally assumed his post in Lima on 21 December 1607, and the present version of Guaman Poma’s text features actions that took place in 1608 and 1609. Guaman Poma makes reference to the viceroy’s personal inspection tours to the mercury mines of Huancavelica, which occurred in 1608, as well as to the silver mines of Chocllococha, in the region of Castrovirreina, that took place before the end of March, 1609 (see Latasa Vassallo 1997, 424-426, 494):

And at the command of His Majesty, he [the marquis of  Montesclaros] personally inspected the mines of Chocl[l]ococha, silver mines, and Huancavelica, mercury mines. He saw with his own eyes all the hardships and ill fate—so much death—of the Indians poisoned by mercury vapors and of how this afore-mentioned kingdom of Peru was becoming depopulated and of how it would continue to be depopulated in the future. He was to inform his Majesty about all this, about everything. Finding himself in the king’s favor, he wrote to His Majesty, informing him about everything on behalf of the poor Indians, so that proper remedies could be applied.

Y por mandado de su Magestad [el marqués de Montesclaros] becitó las minas de Chocl[l]o Cocha, minas de plata, y Guanca Bilca, minas de azogue. Con su persona los uido a uista de ojos todo el trauajo y mala uentura—tanta muerte—de los yndios azogados y de auerse despobládose este dicho rreyno del Pirú y de cómo se a de despoblarse más adelante. De ello auía de enformar a su Magestad de todo ello. Ya faborecido, escrito a su Magestad, enformándolo todo en fabor de los pobres yndios, para que se ponga en rremedio.

Guaman Poma here proves himself to be very well informed; his account is borne out by the documentary record. Montesclaros’ visit to the silver mines of Castrovirreina (Chocllococha) indeed had been mandated by a royal decree, as Guaman Poma writes; it was dispatched from Madrid on 12 December 1606. Furthermore, after his 1608 inspection of the Huancavelica mines, Montesclaros did submit, as Guaman Poma indicates, a long dispatch to the king; it was dated 14 January 1609. Montesclaros likewise prepared a formal report on 29 March 1609, after his subsequent inspection tour to the mines of Castrovirreina (Latasa Vassallo 1997, 426, note 1; 494, notes 457 and 460).

Guaman Poma personally knew and frequented the mining region of Castrovirreina and Huancavelica to which he makes reference.  He mentioned, for example, having heard a sermon preached there on Ash Wednesday in 1614 and of having stopped there later, on his way to Lima, where “his vassals recognized him and embraced him and told him about all the miseries that they suffered in the province and its mines” (actual pages 1114 and 1123). His knowledge of the area is demonstrated by his references to Huancavelica and its provinces of Angaraes, Tayacaja, and Castrovirreina.  In addition to these sites, he also mentioned, in the course of his writing, the settlements of Chocllococha, Angaraes, Huaytará, Santiago de los Chocorvos, San Pedro de Tambopata, Acara (Acoria), and San Cristóbal, as well as the Yauyos ethnic group (Porras Barrenechea 1948, 31, 32, note 19). Huancavelica was one of the four areas in the Andes of today’s central and southern Peru for which Guaman Poma’s references are sufficiently detailed to confirm his knowledge and experience of them; the others are Huamanga and the province of Lucanas in its jurisdiction, and, adjacent to Lucanas, the province of Aymaraes (see Adorno 2001).

The (predictive) historical role that Guaman Poma assigned to Montesclaros reflected his own abiding preoccupation about the exploitation and destruction of native Andeans in the mines. Guaman Poma’s views can be summarized as follows. He devoted a prominent section in the chapter on colonial Indian governance, corregimiento, to the subject of mining, initiating this internal sub-chapter with a drawing of the torture of native lords by miners and judges, and going on to review the conduct of the full range of mining officials, from coopted native Andean intermediaries to Spanish majordomos, who were responsible for the treatment of Andean laborers and conditions in the mines (actual pages 529-539; Figure 16). His emendations to the completed manuscript likewise reiterate the range and depth of his concerns about the human destruction caused in the mines, the need to regulate the conditions and compensation of indigenous mining laborers, and the enormous economic gain that mining production provided to the Spanish crown (actual pages 535, 977, 1005, 1066-67; see Section 4.1, item 6, above). Additionally, Guaman Poma praised Montesclaros’ predecessor, Don Gaspar de Zúniga y Acevedo (“Don Carlos Monterrey”) (1604-1606), for having “begun to favor the poor Indians because it disturbed him very much that the Indians died suddenly in the mines, that they died, poisoned by mercury vapors” (“Comensó a faboreser a los yndios pobres que le pesaua de que los yndios se muriese súpitamente cin confesarse en las minas, y que se muriesen asogados”) (actual page 473).

All these interventions support the importance of these concerns in Guaman Poma’s presentation of Montesclaros as the “very Christian, great alms-giver, and charitable friend of the poor” (“muy cristianícimo, gran limosnero y caritatibo amigo de los pobres”). Lauding Montesclaros for having seen “with his own eyes” the hardships suffered by Andeans and for having written to the king, “informing him about everything in order to favor the poor Indians,” Guaman Poma reveals his appreciation of the viceroy’s understanding of the critical issues of the day. Montesclaros’ interest in reforming mining abuses and searching for greater controls constituted, as Guaman Poma saw it, the viceroy’s greatest potential contribution to colonial governance in the Andes.

Guaman Poma made his presentation convey the fact that he wrote it at the time that Montesclaros was fully exercising that office. “He will accomplish more; he will be a model for others” is a message unique to the entire Nueva corónica y buen gobierno. No one, save Montesclaros, is cast in this presentified, future-oriented role. I believe that this important conceptualization, unique among the depictions of all other exemplary Andean or European personages in the work, was the cause for Guaman Poma to reconsider and recast his account of the eleventh viceroy whose term of office, ironically, he did see come to an end. Although Guaman Poma would not be the first author in history to fail to meet a self-imposed deadline for the completion of his work, it is clear that he anticipated an earlier filing date and that Montesclaros was to have been the living, current example of the exemplary viceroy that Guaman Poma wished to commend to king Philip III.

When did Guaman Poma make his replacement entry?  He had to have done it after the manuscript was bound, otherwise he would have substituted a full double sheet or, after cutting out the unsatisfactory Montesclaros entry, he would have pasted the replacement single sheet onto the remaining single sheet occupied by actual pages 484-485. Beyond the fact that the replacement was made after Guaman Poma initially “completed” his book, it is impossible to determine with certainty whether he prepared it in Lucanas or later in Lima. Because of Guaman Poma’s knowledge of the mining area, he did not need the new sources of information that Lima might have provided him. The  mining region of Huancavelica and Castrovirreina was for Guaman Poma a matter of “local” knowledge. Hence he could have made the decision to highlight Montesclaros in this fashion at any point after he “completed” the book in Lucanas and before he made his final revisions in 1616 in Lima.

Guaman Poma’s focus on Montesclaros invites us to take a look at the viceroy’s own writings.

4.4. Don Juan de Mendoza y Luna: Luz de materias de Indias (GkS 589, 2°)
Guaman Poma’s assessment of the most grave problems facing the viceroyalty are consonant with those outlined by Montesclaros in the final report he filed on his governance of Peru (Adorno 1979-80, 21, 28, note 29). Dated 12 December 1615, the viceroy’s report to his successor, Don Francisco de Borja y Aragón, the prince de Esquilache, warned of the errors in governing into which he himself had fallen, considered a broad range of complex and important questions regarding the governance of Peru, and analyzed the peculiarity of the Peruvian government with its two, mutually dependent but differentiated “republics,” one of Indians, the other of Spaniards.

Montesclaros’ report provides the reader with a useful “yardstick” by which to gauge the power and coherence of  Guaman Poma’s critique of colonial affairs, not only on mining but over a broad spectrum of economic and social issues. The viceroy signed his report perhaps only months before Guaman Poma finished correcting his completed work in 1616, and the coincidence of outlook between the viceroy and the self-appointed advisor to the king makes pertinent the further investigation of Guaman Poma’s claims to have worked in the “houses and palaces of good government.” Montesclaros’ report in its required multiple copies and Guaman Poma’s unique codex may have traveled to Spain in the same diplomatic mail pouch.

A copy of the Montesclaros manuscript, and contemporary with its composition, and entitled “Luz de materias de Indias” has long been part of the Old Royal Collection (GkS 589, 2º). In the 1784-86 Erichsen catalog, it appears at approximately the same point in the shelf-list as Guaman Poma’s manuscript, separated only by their respective format listings of folio and quarto. The Montesclaros report was acquired by the Royal Library in 1721 as part of the private library of the Danish lawyer, historian, and book-collector Christian Reitzer (1665-1736), who was a professor of law at the University of Copenhagen interested in the then-emerging discipline of political science. (Ilsøe 1999, 313-402, discusses the acquisition of Reitzer's library and transcribes the Montesclaros manuscript entry as it appears in the 1721 Reitzer catalog [381, no. 142].)

Two decades ago I suggested (Adorno 1980, xliii-xliv) that the presence of Montesclaros’ account in the Old Royal Collection makes plausible the acquisition (or donation) of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno for its focus on “good government” and civil and ecclesiastical administration rather than for its potential interest as a bibliographic curiosity.

Today, the perusal of the full 1784-86 Erichsen catalog’s folio, quarto, and octavo entries classified as “Recent Spanish and Portuguese History” confirms that the work’s dual title, “corónica” and “buen gobierno,” would have been sufficient reason to accommodate it within the heterogeneous grouping of works that included treatises on “justice and good government” in Spain, its economic restoration, and accountancy in its overseas empire (see Section 2.1, above).

Current historical investigations of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Danish book-collectors and the earliest holdings of the Royal Library also confirm that Danish royalty, high-ranking officials, and private collectors took notable interest in Spanish political affairs from their ideological perspectives in Protestant northern Europe. The acquisition of the Montesclaros manuscript and other Hispanica now in the Royal Library continued a tradition that included the acquisition or donation, probably several decades earlier, of the Guaman Poma manuscript (see Section 2.2, above).

The Montesclaros document is now online on this website.

4.5. The Central Role of Chapter 20
The thematic significance in the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno of Montesclaros’ “presentified” rule supports the story that the codicological evidence tells more broadly. That is, if Montesclaros’ regime was the “living,” current capstone of Guaman Poma’s exemplary presentation of good civil governance, it was nevertheless part of a much larger structure of models for colonial reform that Guaman Poma put forward.

Of the five categories of textual emendation summarized in Table 3, only chapter 20, “of good government,” is emended in as many as four of them: sheets added, a sheet excised, texts supplemented by new information, and texts augmented by reiteration and/or recommendations for reform. Through its construction and incessant updating and correction, the “Buen gobierno” chapter makes plain the principal purpose of the work that Guaman Poma announced from Santiago de Chipao in February 1615. All additions of sheets to the completed manuscript, as well as the single excision from it, occur in the Buen gobierno. More than any other kind of evidence or argument, these emendations underscore the signal importance of this longest portion of the book and its inaugural chapter as a work oriented toward the future, specifically in reference to those personages who represented the authority of the monarch to whom the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno was directed. 

As we have “looked over Guaman Poma’s shoulder,” we have seen that as he continued to work over this central “buen gobierno” chapter, he discovered his previous errors and omissions. Dissatisfied with his original account of Montesclaros, he replaced the viceroy’s earlier pictorial and prose portrait. Upon discovering his oversight of the rule of Don Fernando de Torres y Portugal, he added a single sheet to the quire to accommodate Torres’ presentation as the sixth viceroy (actually, he was the seventh) and increased by one the number in sequence of the four that followed. Discovering subsequently that he had overlooked altogether the tenure of the Count of Nieva, he entered that information at the lower margin of his first viceregal portrait, that of Antonio de Mendoza (actual page 438), and continued by adding a note on the inclusive years of rule of each successive viceroy at the bottom of the respective portrait pages, thus covering all but one omission that would remain in perpetuity (the governorship of Lope García de Castro), and concluding by acknowledging that Montesclaros’ tenure as viceroy ended in 1615. We know that Guaman Poma made these precise, final corrections not in provincial Lucanas but rather in Lima, near or at the viceregal court, as he prepared to deposit his manuscript.

Viewed comprehensively, the process of tireless emendation to which Guaman Poma submitted his series of viceroys’ portraits supports the argument for its signally important role in initiating the Buen gobierno. Underscoring Guaman Poma’s hope that the monarch would welcome an assessment of his most highly ranked surrogates, and that it would be appropriate for the king’s princely Andean vassal to honor them, the codicological evidence supports the conceptual formulation of the work as a “letter to the king” in which the subject of governmental reform is dominant, and the role of the viceroy within it emerges and occupies a position of primacy. 

Taking account of emerging priorities and implementing them through late insertions was not a simple authorial task, particularly in a situation of dwindling resources that were gradually being depleted. We turn now to Guaman Poma’s late-hour dilemma of balancing textual desiderata against material limitations.

4.6. The Author and Artist as His Own Scribe
The consideration of the codicological evidence that the autograph manuscript presents brings forth one entirely new dimension about Guaman Poma’s execution of his work. While we are familiar with Guaman Poma as an artist who also plays the role of author, or vice versa, the codicological inquiry teaches us what it means for that artist and author to serve as his own scribe. As he handles innumerable and difficult choices, we discover not the ineptitude of a self-taught Andean amateur, but an author and artist in control of his own medium.

It was as his own scribe that Guaman Poma had to deal with the challenge of diminishing material resources. If we think of  the scribe’s task in making decisions in the face of a paper shortage, we can better understand a number of apparent contradictions within the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno manuscript. We can appreciate why some texts were updated or augmented and others were not. Glancing back at the late sheets additions and their contents surveyed in Section 4.1, the close reader will not be surprised that the topics of the parish priests (which occupies the longest chapter in the book), native Andean society, the moral “Considerations,” the dialogue with the king, and commentary on the silver mines of Potosí, all have been the beneficiaries of additional though limited resources. By these lights, the acquisition of eighteen single, or nine double, sheets needed to produce the thirty-six pages of “Camina el autor” must have provided a considerable challenge.

At the same time, bringing the “Tabla de la dicha corónica” up to date would have required two double sheets, but Guaman Poma did not undertake that revision.  The evidence suggests that at a late stage of his work, he gave a lower priority to the accuracy of the information presented in the “Tabla.” Likewise, as a possible consequence of his decision not to update it, he invested less care in maintaining the overall accuracy of the pagination in the body of the book. It is possible either that he postponed a full proof-reading of his pagination and then later found himself unable to complete it, or that he decided not to make further corrections, knowing that his own page numbers would not be reproduced in any printed version of his manuscript. (Pagination, as we saw above, was merely one of the means by which Guaman Poma attempted to guarantee the intelligibility of the codex’s proper sequencing.) Whatever the case might have been, the low priority he now gave to pagination made room for his esthetic considerations.

Oddly enough, Guaman Poma’s most egregious “errors” in pagination may be the result of his esthetic predilections. This phenomenon serves as a final demonstration of his treatment of competing priorities in a time of scarcity. Just as his graphic sensibility prevented him, as his own scribe, from marring his “Tabla” with repeated layers of corrections, so too it overruled his desire, as an author, to achieve a pedantically accurate control of his modified pagination. Thus, as we saw above regarding the 986-cum-996 adjustment and the following repagination, Guaman Poma consciously but silently “overlooked” the misnumbering of hundreds of pages, from 537 to 1003, and, on the 124 pages that he did renumber (actual pages 1004-1178, excepting pages 1066-1067 and 1104-1139 on Potosí and “Camina el autor”), his activity consisted not of adding new, easily legible page numbers, but rather of “grafting” the correct digits onto the old page numbers, making as few deletions and smudges as possible.

Guided more by esthetic than by arithmetical principles, Guaman Poma smoothly and correctly executed the conversion of old page numbers to new ones. Since he did so rather mechanically, more for his own benefit as redactor than for the convenience of any future readers—and hence without the redundant accuracy that otherwise characterized his writing—he produced whole series of page numbers that were “misspelled,” resulting in hybrid and impossible numbers such as 11010 and 11102 instead of 1110 and 1112, created by the wrong insertion of a zero (see actual pages 1120 and 1122). The last digits, nevertheless, are invariably correct, thus allowing for identification of interpolated or excised material. At the same time, the digits in the tens of thousands, inaccurately substituting for numbers in the thousands, tend to comply first and foremost with the esthetic principle of making the least intrusive corrections possible by refraining from writing over and blurring the extant numbers. Hence, for example, on actual page 1146, wanting to raise 1090 by 10, Guaman Poma changed this figure to 11010 (instead of 1100), by adding “1” in front and changing the “9” to a “1.” (He subsequently raised this new number by 36 to 11036, instead of to 1136, by overwriting the old “9/1” with a “3” and extending the circle of the last “0” to turn it into a “6.”)

4.7. Sealing the Text, Closing the Book: Frontispiece Calculations
After the insertion of the “Camina el autor” chapter Guaman Poma attempted to calculate the length of his work, and he entered his findings on its frontispiece. The frontispiece reveals that Guaman Poma made four such successive attempts to close and “lock” his book. For many years these notations were commonly misjudged to be Guaman Poma’s statement that his work was meant for those who were blind, that is, illiterate (“pliegos” read as “ciegos,” blind), and those who could see (“fojas” read as “ojos,” eyes). During my 1977 examination of the autograph manuscript I was able to correct this popular misapprehension; Guaman Poma was in fact tabulating the length of his manuscript. His calculations, however, are more complex than I had earlier supposed (Adorno1980, vol. 1., p. xxxviii, note 14; vol. 3, p. 1126, note 1).  

His announcement of the number of sheets (“fojas”) and folds of eight (“pliegos”) that constituted the manuscript offered practical information to a potential printer but it also served as a notice aimed at preventing the book’s expansion, reduction, or modification at the hands of others. Even though his introduction and subsequent correction of these calculations violated his esthetic criteria and marred the beauty of his frontispiece, these successively produced “seals” are, in effect, Guaman Poma’s final signature to the work.

The frontispiece calculations constitute that rare instance in which the images on the web are best supplemented by high resolution photography, in this case produced by the Royal Library’s Photographic Atelier and reproduced to a size of  70 x 100 cm., as enlarged digitized images of details were not yet available.

The key to interpreting these calculations depends on recognizing that they constitute a sequence; they are not parallel statements of a single status quo. The four different calculations exhibit several changes in ink color within each of the upper and lower tallies as well as between them. The upper tallies, read successively as 579 and 597 “fojas,” or sheets, yield 1158 and 1194 pages (See illustration). The lower tallies, read successively as 144 and 146 “pliegos” or units of eight, yield, respectively, 1152 and 1168 pages. The reading of these annotations in the high-resolution photographs prepared by the Royal Library reveals, even more clearly than does the digital edition, the superimposition of “ssays” over “quatro,” and the “6” over the “4,” that modifies “144” to “146” in the “pliegos” count at the bottom of the page. 

The “5979” sequence in the upper tallies can be disassembled in this manner:  It appears that the first entry was “quinientas y siete[n]ta y 9 oxas,” augmented, for clarity, by the introduction of the phrase “579 fojas,” yielding, in this calculation of words and ciphers, 579 sheets, or 1158 pages. The second calculation results in “quinientas y nobenta y siete oxas – 597 fojas”, with “nobe” overwriting “siete” of “siete[n]ta” to produce “nobenta,” with ciphers for “7” probably replacing those of the previous “9” (these are illegible). Correcting the numerical calculation, a “9” is inserted between “5” and “7” of “579” and a brown smudge is introduced to cancel the “9” of “579,” thus converting that number and phrase from “579 fojas” to “597 fojas.”

Since Guaman Poma never numbered the nine pages of his “Tabla,” it is to be expected that his tallies concern only the body of his work (See illustration).

The calculation of 579 sheets or 1158 pages corresponded to a moment prior to the ten-page adjustment Guaman Poma introduced at his page 986. At that point in time, however, he had already sewn the book, numbered the pages, recorded the appropriate page numbers in his “Tabla,” and written “Camina el autor.” The total of 1158 pages was produced by taking his initial pagination of the book through chapter 35 (the inns on the royal road), that is, page 1083 (actual page 1103), and adding the number of pages, 36 and 39, respectively, that corresponded to the chapters “Camina el autor” and “the months of the year”: 1083 + 36 + 39 = 1158. 

After Guaman Poma made in Lima a ten-page adjustment in the pagination of his book (see Section 3.7, above), he recalculated his page total. Adding 10 to the previous total of 1158 pages yielded 1168 pages. Dividing that number by 8 to obtain the number of folds of eight pages, he must have arrived at the incorrect number of 144, that is, 144 “pliegos” or units of eight. Repeating the exercise of 1168 divided by 8, he arrived at the correct number of 146; hence he corrected “144 pliegos” to “146 pliegos.”

His fourth and final tally of  “597 fojas,” yielding 1194 pages, must have occurred at a still later moment. Perhaps hurriedly seeking to “seal” his book and forgetting that he had already incorporated into his calculations the two, still-loose quires of the eighteen sheets of the “Camina el autor” chapter, he again added 18 to his earlier calculation of 579 sheets and arrived at the total of 597 sheets. This highest estimate of the manuscript’s length can be attributed to Guaman Poma’s counting the “Camina el autor” chapter twice. It does not reflect any potential intention to add to the finished book yet another supplementary chapter of eighteen sheets, because no such additional insertion is evidenced by any of his repagination efforts. Although his final calculation of 597 sheets was incorrect, it represents the culmination of a process whereby Guaman Poma prepared his work for an uncertain future as he closed it, for the last time, in 1616.

4.8. The “First of the New Chronicles”
Although we do not know at what point Guaman Poma modified the title of his work from El primero i nueva corónica i buen gobierno to El primer nueva corónica i buen gobierno (
See illustration), we can speculate that it might have come at or near the end of his final revisions and emendations. It was in these final revisions that he attempted to strengthen the future-oriented goals of his remedial program and he may have felt that his focus had shifted heavily in that direction: The viceroy Montesclaros emerged as a living exemplar of just rule. Through his portrayal and other additions to the work, Guaman Poma emphasized the importance of mining to the Spanish economy and the threat of destruction it posed to Andean society. The priestly presence in Peru was also an object of intensified concern, and “Camina el autor” added an outraged lament about the horrors of the campaigns to “extirpate idolatry.” This late chapter also renewed Guaman Poma’s outcry about the devastating effects of mestizaje, racial mixing, on the Andean race and the social fabric of Andean Peru. The telling of history, one of the twin goals of the work, becomes, relatively speaking, somewhat eclipsed by its equal partner, the exposé of colonial abuses and the exposition of proposals for good governance.

We can imagine that it was at this point that Guaman Poma reconsidered the balance between the two focal points of his tandem project. Late revisions and inserted sheets aside, even by the datum of sheer page count the Buen gobierno exceeded the length of the Nueva corónica by several hundred pages, occupying almost two-thirds of the work. Did Guaman Poma decide that the balance had shifted, emphasizing, when all was said and done, the treatise on good governance over the treatment of Andean history?  If this were the case, then “history” might no longer be an equal partner, of interest for its own sake, but rather an instrumental tool within the larger work.

This “tool” could serve to establish his credibility as princely adviser by demonstrating his own base of knowledge in the society for which he sought to serve as advocate. It could also, as I have demonstrated elsewhere (Adorno 2000), “rewrite history” so as to make its course conform to the goals that Guaman Poma sought for the redress of personal and societal grievances and the return of Andean sovereignty. In this regard, perhaps he found that his chronicle ought not to be described as “first and new,” in which “first” and “new” carried synonymous or equivalent weight,  but rather as the “first new chronicle,” or the “first of the new chronicles,” which proclaimed its primacy in a new hierarchy of historico-literary values. It suggests, in part, that Guaman Poma viewed his work as the inauguration of a new departure in chronicle-writing that would correct the earlier, European-authored versions of Inka and Spanish conquest histories of Peru. His critical review of  previous chronicles (chapter 34) bears out this interpretation of his cryptic title insofar as it includes an implicit (but not subtle) defense of his own work.

The notion of historiographic “newness” as the combination of two, distinctive generic entities had been suggested by the Jesuit José de Acosta with whose works Guaman Poma was familiar.  Acosta (1962, 13) had called his own 1588 Historia natural y moral de las Indias “new” because it was in part “history and in part philosophy.” With or without Acosta as a guide (Guaman Poma referred to Acosta’s other works, not the Historia that contains the assertion), the notion of “newness” representing something that was a hybrid or result of a mixture would not have been unfamiliar to Guaman Poma. 

In Guaman Poma’s case, the “first of the new chronicles” could also be construed, in part, as the history that directly served the cause of justice. And that cause had taken shape in the elaboration and emendation of the Buen gobierno. It is in this regard that the partial identification of Guaman Poma’s work as an arbitrio bears mention.

From our vantage point today, the interest that Guaman Poma’s work arouses is in the cultural domain, that is, in his handling of the institutions and conventions of Andean culture vis-à-vis his manipulation of those of  Spanish and European culture. One of the areas long ago mentioned but insufficiently developed on the European “side” of Guaman Poma’s cultural repertoire is the relationship of his work to those of advisement to the king on political, administrative, and economic matters. Guaman Poma’s proposals for reform constitute the backbone of his book, which he located within the literary tradition of counsel to the prince (Adorno 1974, 151-155). While elements representing a range of European artistic conventions and literary genres have been identified in Guaman Poma’s work, from Renaissance biography to Counter-Reformational sermons (Adorno 2000), perhaps the model that best serves to classify it according to the lights of  its own day is, in the end, the arbitrio. I emphasize “in the end” because the work’s definition took shape as a dynamic process; we see that Guaman Poma worked unceasingly at developing and emending its contents, as I have described them throughout this paper.

Arbitrio was the name given in the first half of the seventeenth century to treatises offering proposals for fiscal reform to save Spain from the economic ruin into which it was plummeting. The authors of such works were referred to, not always flatteringly, as arbitristas. They included lawyers, clerics, merchants, royal officials or “plain adventurers,” all of whom saw themselves as men of special social responsibility. Their approaches varied, from advocating economic or fiscal reform to proposing new mental attitudes deemed necessary if new sources of wealth were to be generated. (Guaman Poma fits in here.) No matter how grave the arbitristas’ assessment of the situation at hand, argues British historian Sir John Elliott (1986, 88-89), all of them were “imbued with the belief that something must, and could, be done.”

Given the fact that Guaman Poma’s proposals for reform were directed to king Philip III and that, at bottom, all his recommendations for political, ecclesiastical, and social betterment were to have as their effect not only justice for the Andean people (Guaman Poma’s first cause) but also the Spanish monarchy’s greater economic good (his most insistent rhetorical argument), the arbitrio classification is one that can be put forward with credibility. The notion of the arbitrio underscores the potential interest of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno in its focus on governmental and administrative affairs. It “makes visible” the dozens of the work’s “prologues,” easily seen as merely perplexing or miscast, from a literary historical perspective, in their placement at the end of the chapters they accompany. Spanning the entire work, from the Nueva corónica’s outline of imperial Inka policies through the Buen gobierno’s painstaking survey of social and ethnic groups that made up the Spanish “kingdom of the Indies of Peru,” Guaman Poma’s hortative “prologues” stand as the best evidence in revealing that the work was, as its title indicated, devoted to moving the reader--from the king to all his colonial vassals--to take up the cause of “good government”, that is, of justice. 

The prologues of the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno can be readily accessed in the online edition through its table of contents. 

In all its dimensions, the intricate organization and layered construction of Guaman Poma's work, from its articulation of picture and prose to that of chapter and prologue, reveal the complexity and coherence of his conceptualization, as author and artist, and his success as his own scribe. In this regard, the coordination of codicological and textual evidence provides more than insight into aspects of the work’s conceptualization, now frozen in time, or even its systematic emendation, for the sake of charting one-time corrections and expansions. The codicological evidence in conjunction with the textual testimony give voice to the silent but dynamic process through which the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno gives an account of its material assembly and substantive realization. Together, these mutually supportive procedures turn the dead artifact into a living text and allow it to perform the juridically impossible act of being a “witness unto itself,” that is, a book that tells the story of its own making.




I would like to thank Mr. Harald Ilsøe, historian and former Research Librarian at the Royal Library, for his intellectual generosity in sharing with me his vast knowledge of the history of the Royal Library’s holdings. He responded to my queries from the bounty of his bibliographic expertise on numerous occasions and in great detail, for which I am profoundly grateful. Our exchanges were made possible by Mr. Ivan Boserup, Head of the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books, who guided our conversation and, in effect, carried out my side of it by long distance and in Danish. He has also provided information in response to my countless queries about codicological matters, and he has been a most valued interlocutor on virtually every interpretive point in this paper. To Dr. Karen Skovgaard-Petersen, Senior Researcher at the Royal Library, I express my thanks for a complete and penetrating reading of the near-final draft. To Mr. Erland Kolding Nielsen, Director General of the Royal Library, I extend my deepest gratitude for the generosity with which he has made the Library’s remarkable resources available to me.


Works Cited

Acosta, José de. 1962.  Historia natural y moral de las Indias. 1588. Edmundo O’Gorman, ed. Fondo de Cultura Económica.  México.

Adorno, Rolena. 2001. Guaman Poma and His Illustrated Chronicle from Colonial Peru: From a Century of Scholarship to a New Era of Reading/Guaman Poma y su crónica ilustrada del Perú colonial: un siglo de investigaciones hacia una nueva era de lectura. Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen, and The Royal Library. Copenhagen. [This essay also appears on this website.].

---. 2000. Guaman Poma: Writing and Resistance in Colonial Peru. 1986. Second edition with a new introduction by the author. University of Texas Press. Austin.

---. 1995. La génesis de la Nueva crónica y buen gobierno de Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala. Taller de letras 23: 9-45. Santiago de Chile.

---. 1993. The Genesis of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala's Nueva corónica y buen gobierno. Colonial Latin American Review 2: 53-91. New York.

---. 1980. La redacción y enmendación del autógrafo de la Nueva corónica y buen gobierno. In El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno by Felipe Guaman Poma  de Ayala. John V. Murra and Rolena Adorno, eds. Quechua translations by Jorge L. Urioste. 1: xxxii-xlvi.

---. 1979-80. The New Chronicle and Good Government: A New Look at the Royal Library's Peruvian Treasure. Fund og Forskning 24: 7-28. [This essay also appears on this website.]

---. 1974. The Nueva corónica y buen gobierno of Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala: A Lost Chapter in the History of Latin-American Letters. Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Cornell University.

Briquet, C.M. 1968. Les Filigranes. Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu'en 1600. A Facsimile of the 1907 Edition with Supplementary Material Contributed by a Number of Scholars. Allan Stevenson, ed. (“The New Briquet Jubilee Edition”). 4 vols. The Paper Publication Society. Amsterdam.

Edmonson, Munro S. 1985. Literatures. Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians, volume 3. University of Texas Press. Austin, Texas.

Elliott, John Huxtable. 1986. The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline. Yale University Press. New Haven, Connecticut.

Erichsen, Jón. 1786. Udsigt over den gamle Manuscript-Samling i det store Kongelige Bibliothek. Kiøbenhavn.

---. 1784-86. Catalogus manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Regiæ scriptus et ordinatus annis 1784-86.  4 vols. (Handwritten catalog in the Royal Library).

Fraser, Valerie. 1996. The Artistry of Guaman Poma. RES 29/30: 269-289.

Gerhard, Peter. 1993. A Guide to the Historical Geography of New Spain. 1972. Rev. ed. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman, Oklahoma.

Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe. 2001. Nueva corónica y buen gobierno. Complete digital facsimile edition. Royal Library of Denmark, Copenhagen. Scholarly consultant: Rolena Adorno)

---. 2001. Guaman Poma informs the king about his chronicle/Guaman Poma informa al rey sobre su crónica. In Adorno 2001, 79-86. [Guaman Poma’s 14 February 1615 letter to Philip III].

---. 1987. Nueva crónica y buen gobierno. Ed. John V. Murra, Rolena Adorno y Jorge L. Urioste.  Crónicas de América 29a-c.  Historia-16, Madrid.

---. 1980. Nueva corónica y buen gobierno. Franklin Pease G.Y., ed. Biblioteca Ayacucho, Caracas.

---. 1980. El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno. John V. Murra y Rolena Adorno, eds. Traducciones del quechua por Jorge L. Urioste. Siglo Veintiuno, México. Rpt. 1989, 1992.

---. 1936. Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (Codex péruvien illustré). Travaux et mémoires de l’Institut d’Ethnologie 23. Institut d’Ethnologie, Paris.

Henningsen, Gustav. 1975-76. D.G. Moldenhawers samlinger til en spansk inkvisitionshistorie. Fund og Forskning 22: 121-176, 249-250.

Ilsøe, Harald. 1999. Det kongelige Bibliotek i støbeskeen. Studier og samlinger til bestandens historie indtil ca. 1780. Danish Humanist Texts and Studies 21. 2 vols. Museum Tusculanums Forlag. Copenhagen.

---. 1993. Lidt gammelt nyt om bibliotekets berømte inkahåndskrift. Magasin fra Det Kongelige Bibliotek 8 (1): 28-32.

Latasa Vassallo, Pilar. 1997. Administración virreinal en el Perú: gobierno del Marqués de Montesclaros (1607-1615). Centro de Estudios Ramón Areces. Madrid.

Means, Philip Ainsworth. 1923. Some Comments on the Inedited Manuscript of Poma de Ayala. American Anthropologist 25: 397-405.

Ossio, Juan M. 2001. Guaman Poma en Internet. El Comercio, Sección Dominical. 3 junio 2001. Lima.

---. 1998. Tras la huella de Fray Martín de Murúa. Paper presented at the Primer Congreso Internacional de Peruanistas en el Extranjero. Harvard University 29 April 1999.

Pietschmann, Richard. 1912. Some account of the illustrated chronicle by the Peruvian Indian, D. Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala. In Proceedings of the XVIII Session of the International Congress of Americanists. 510-21. International Congress of Americanists. London. Tranlated into Spanish by Emilia Romero as: Relación sobre la crónica ilustrada por el indio peruano D. Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala. In Julio C. Tello, Las primeras edades del Perú por Guaman Poma, pp. 93-101.

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Porras Barrenechea, Raúl. 1948. El cronista indio Felipe Huamán Poma de Ayala. Editorial Lumen. Lima.

Prado Tello, Elías and Alfredo Prado Prado, eds. 1991. Y no ay rremedio . . . .  Centro de Investigación y Promoción Amazónica. Lima.

Tello, Julio C. 1939.  Las primeras edades del Perú por Guaman Poma. Ensayo de interpretación. Imprenta Schuech. Lima.

Werlauff, Erich Christian. 1844.  Historiske Efterretninger om det store kongelige Bibliothek i Kiøbenhavn. Kiøbenhavn.

---. 1825.  Historiske Efterretninger om det store kongelige Bibliothek i Kjøbenhavn. Kjøbenhavn.



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