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A Glimpse at Guatemala

A Glimpse at Guatemala, and Some Notes on the Ancient Monuments of Central America

"The Plaza, Atitlán," photogravure.

Alfred Percival Maudslay (1850–1931)
Anne Cary Maudslay (d. 1926)
A Glimpse at Guatemala, and Some Notes on the Ancient Monuments of Central America
London: John Murray, 1899

As Alfred Maudslay explains in the introduction to this book, individuals had encouraged him to produce a less expensive and more accessible book on his Central-American travels after the success of his Archaeology volumes for Godman and Salvin’s Biologia Centrali-Americana. The opportunity came with his marriage to Anne Cary Morris, who kept a journal during their travels in Guatemala in 1894, something that he confesses he was never able to do.

The book combines observations, history, and archaeological information. In the chapter on “The Quichés and Cachiquels,” the Maudslays relate Pedro Alvarado’s 1524 invasion of Utatlán, capital of the K’iche’ Maya empire, as well as the submission of Kaqchikel and Tz’utujil people in the regions of Atitlán. That section also includes this picture of the plaza in the village of Atitlán, an uncommon nineteenth-century image of a large gathering of Maya people in a traditional community space. More often, photographs and photographically derived prints of the period show Maya people individually or in small numbers, as guides at ruins, or in picturesque renderings.

Despite the desire for affordability, the publisher and the author-photographers could not resist producing an exquisite volume. In addition to the many beautifully printed photogravures, there are two remarkable color illustrations, including the one below, which reproduces indigenous textiles and embroidery.

Presented by George E. and Melinda Y. Stuart
Rare Book Collection Stuart Folio F1464 .M44