Davide Domenici

Handling sacrifice. Reception and perception of Mesoamerican knives in Italy

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Mesoamerican material culture; Dominican missionaries; History of collections; Human sacrifice

The article explores the cultural biographies of a series of Mesoamerican knives brought to Italy during the 16th century by Dominican missionaries. Even if many of these knives were subsequently lost, at least three of them (actually, two mosaic-encrusted bladeless handles and a whole specimen) are still preserved in museum collections in Italy and UK. Besides contributing to the study of the Italian reception of Mesoamerican material culture, the article explores the five centuries-long biographical trajectory of the knives which, by going through diverse cultural contexts and regimes of value, were able to elicit an array of discourses on topics such as the humanity of Indigenous American peoples, religious difference and – even if much less than expected – human sacrifice.

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