"The Only Work Published on the Texas Indian Language..." - Henry R. Wagner
Fine Example with Stellar Provenance - Owned by Two of the Greatest Bibliographers of the 19th-Century
A beautiful example of the first edition of a very rare Texas book, written by a missionary who lived in Texas for 12 years. Father García's Manual on administering the sacraments, in both Spanish and in the language of Texas Indians living along the San Antonio and Rio Grande Rivers, stands as the only known book in any of the Texas Indian languages to be issued during the Spanish period. Indeed, it is the only work ever in Pakawan, the most commonly spoken language among Native Americans in early Texas.
While the title is printed in Spanish, as are the introductory pages, the bulk of the book's text is printed in parallel columns in Spanish and Pakawa. García intended this book to be used as a practical manual by the Franciscan missionaries who had come north from Queretaro. The Pakawan language was the specific language chosen for the text, as it was considered the most commonly used language. Incidentally, the full title incorporates an impressive list of Texan tribes, noting a total of 18 tribes or groups.
The book opens with Father José Guadalupe Prado's introduction and approbation of the work.
In his aprobación and sentir Father Prado states that he had spent twenty-two years in the missions of Coahuila and Texas, and notes the difficulties of the missionaries in making themselves understood by the natives... He states that this situation is much more serious in San Antonio because there are so many different languages there that it seems like Babylon. In order to get any results it would be necessary that the commonest language be chosen which the principal Indians would have to learn first in order to instruct the others - Wagner.
In two further pages of Notas, Father Prado alerts the reader to variations in pronunciation among tribes, and advises missionaries to teach doctrine that dovetails with Indian thinking rather than by zealous application of the book at hand.
In addition to problems of communication with the Texan Native Americans, the book covers other interesting subjects including sexual mores, the casting of death spells, the eating of peyote and frijolillo, cannibalism and pregnancy.
At the time of writing the Manual, Garcia was at the Nuestro Padre de San Francisco de la Espada Mission, near San Antonio.
While well represented in institutional confines, Garcia's Manual is rare in the market. RBH notes only three copies in the last 25 years. The present example is in beautiful condition and of special interest for its notable provenance.
Hubert Hudson, former Texas Senator, 1957-1963.
Joaquin García Icazbalceta, the great 19th-century Mexican bibliophile and bibliographer, with his bookplate.
José Toribio Medina, with a neat manuscript inscription on verso of title page suggesting that the recipient (likely García Icazbalceta) received the present example from the noted Chilean bibliographer: "Obsequio del distinguido bibliografo J. Toribio Medina."