The Institution of the Teccalli in the Pre-Columbian and Colonial Altepetl of Tlaxcallan/Tlaxcala: A Re-Evaluation

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Based on new data emerging from the study of the archives of the Fiscalías del Estado de Tlaxcala, the main goal of this article is to clarify the position and function of the institution of the teccalli, as well as to further identify local social structures within altepetl of Tlaxcallan: what was the inner structure of the altepetl in Tlaxcallan, before and after the Spanish conquest? What was the real relationship of the power division between the teccalli and calli (pikalli/pikhantli) - as minor noble houses within a given teccalli? In contrast to what Lock-hart originally proposed, it is suggested here that in pre-colonial Tlaxcallan, the calpolli/ tlaxilacalli were integral components of the "estate"of the teccalli, in spite of the fact that jurisdictional limits among the social structures often encroached on each other. One of the direct consequences of tlaxilacalli's itech pohuaqui in teccalli [the number of persons counted in a given teccalli] in Tlaxcallan, as this paper highlights, was the pattern under which their macehualtin were made to levy tribute payments and services directly to the teccalli/tecpa, rather than to the altepetl. In addition, calli, minor lordly houses, as they are defined in this article (also, McCaa 2003) were inseparable from a given teccalli's social jurisdiction in Tlaxcallan. In direct contrast to what Fargher and Blanton argue, the present paper demonstrates that, in effect, teccalli did maintain their independence within the altepetl, and their tlahtohcayotl was passed on within the relevant dominant calli, or lordly houses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-159
Number of pages39
JournalEstudios de Cultura Nahuatl
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 UNAM. Esta obra es de acceso abierto y se distribuye bajo la licencia Creative.


  • Archivos de Fiscalías del Estado de Tlaxcala
  • Santa Inés Zacatelco
  • corporate entities in Tlaxcallan
  • inheritance patterns in colonial Tlaxcala
  • pilcalli and teccalli in Tlaxcala
  • tecpa versus colli in Tlaxcala
  • teixurhuan versus terrazgueros
  • terrazgueros versus macehualtin
  • tlaxilacalli in Tlaxcallan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology


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