Off Topic: Cochineal

Brook Klehm
Sat, 13 Aug 2005 12:32:41 PDT
> Doesn't the word cochineal refer specifically to the product obtained 
> from
> the New World scale cultivated by the Aztecs and exploited so 
> successfully
> by the Spanish?

Am I splitting hairs?

Cochineal was not exploited by the Aztecs, but by the Mixtecs.  In 
fact, the Mixtecs were never subjugated by the Aztecs, instead, they 
entered into a commercial relationship with the Aztecs.   They were 
able to keep their noble class and social structures, probably due to 
the power they derived from the cochineal trade.  The Mixtecs were 
barely subjugated by the Spanish when they arrived.  The Oaxacan 
highlands were conquered much later than the central highlands of 
Mexico.  Once again, the Mixtecs continued their cochineal trade and 
maintained their social structures (the nobles became caciques -- 
indigenous strongmen) even after being conquered.  It was only after 
the loss of the secret of cochineal production and the loss of their 
topsoil due to growing maize that the Mixtecs finally floundered.   
Now, the middle elevations of the Mixtec region of Oaxaca are 
completely stripped of soil and are landscapes of eroded gullies of 
richly colored, barren, mineral subsoils.  The people who inhabit the 
area are frighteningly impoverished.

On a further tangent, the British redcoats who enforced the King's 
wishes prior to the US revolution wore coats dyed red with... 

Too much information?  If so, please forgive me.

Brook  Klehm

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