Javier Via Jaguar And Jesuits

Jaguar (picture from Flickr.com)

Jagua from the Guarani language: a term used for tygers and dogs, according to the history written by Francisco Javier Clavigero. A world in which tigers and dogs are interchangeable is interesting, yes. But first I choose to look at the instant prejudice I detect in myself regarding a history of South America written by a non-South American in the year…? The dictionary I am working from this week is an 1894 edition, the Hist. of Mexico referred to most likely current to that, but that is the translation, so the original would be earlier, but I am not smart with numbers and these thoughts do not make for remarkable sentences, so I look online.
Francisco was born in Mexico, it seems, of Spanish parents, September 9, 1731. His place of birth gives better credentials than expected, and furthermore:
'Clavijero's biographer, Juan Luis Maneiro, wrote: 'From the time of his boyhood, he had occasion to deal intimately with the indigenous people, to learn thoroughly their customs and nature, and to investigate attentively the many special things the land produces, be they plants, animals or minerals. There was no high mountain, dark cave, pleasant valley, spring, brook, or any other place that drew his curiosity to which the Indians did not take the boy to in order to please him.''
Just as I warm to him, Francisco grows up and becomes a Jesuit priest: from my creaky memory of European History stern, dogmatic shadows are cast by this order. And yet:
''In a letter dated April 3, 1761, Father Pedro Reales, vicar general of the Jesuits, rebuked him in a letter for
'having completely shaken off the yoke of obedience, responding with an "I don't want to" to those who assigned you duties, as occurred yesterday, or at the very least this answer was given to the superior, who in truth did not know what path to take so that Your Reverence would fulfill and embrace your duty.''
What he did want to do was write, and write an account of Historia de Antigua de Mexico that was in favour of the natives rather than the conquistadors. He died in Bologna in 1787; his bones were brought back to Veracruz in 1970, thus suggesting he is given more credit for his studies and opinions now than in his lifetime.

[The Guarani, incidentally, are an indigenous Brazilian tribe that still exist and hold on to slivers of their ancestral land. Sugar cane for biofuel has a good price, depending on how you regard the definitions of 'good' and 'price.'
Check here for more on the troubles of tribes and how to help (the prayers of an old Jesuit will go with you)
Survival International]

Quotes in text from Wikipedia: this picture from my breakfast table.


Sue McPeak said…
I really enjoyed reading this post with it's history, quotes and your inserted thoughts on each of the 'J' words...especially Jesuits. Good one at the end, too....prayers of an old Jesuit will go with you.
Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
Jo said…
An interesting snippet of unknown history. Thanks for sharing it. Sounds as though his heart was in the right place.

Suze said…
I'm glad to read his bones were taken back to Veracruz. The mystery of life rests in the bones.

I love 'the prayers of an old Jesuit ...'

It seems to me the illustrious manage crop up in every belief.
Lisa Southard said…
I was heartened by his story and that's the crux of it, Suze- the illustrious are represented everywhere and anywhere. If I'm ever in Velacruz I must look him up!

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