Mitla. A narrative of incidents and personal adventures on a journey in Mexico, Guatemala, and Salvador in the years 1853 to 1855. With observations on the modes of life in those countries
Gustavus Ferdinand Tempsky (1828-1868) was a Prussian adventurer and talented artist, was educated in the Berlin Military academy and served many years in the army and later as a mercenary. This book is an interesting account of Tempsky’s journey in Mexico, Tehuantepec, and Central America, and his attempt to portray the inhabitants 'in a life-like manner.' The text begins with an 1853 sea voyage aboard the French brig Independance from San Francisco to Mazatlan, Mexico. The author had spent three years in California (he has been described as John Sutter's personal bodyguard) and gives an interesting [and positive] account of Joaquin Murieta. In later years, Tempsky immigrated to Australia and then went on to New Zealand, where he was killed in bush fighting against the Maoris.
A good deal of the text and several of the plates illustrate Mitla, the Zapotec ruins outside Oaxaca, Mexico. Tempsky's travels in Northern Mexico document in an engaging fashion ranching on a grand scale (“cattle estates”), rustling, and Comanche and Apache depredations in the Borderlands. The handsome copper-engraved map is an accurate, careful delineation showing routes and boundaries to inform future travellers. Supplementing the map is a table charting Tempsky's itinerary with stations, place names, and distances in leagues between point.
The exceptionally beautiful color plates in this book are after Tempsky's own art work. For more on the author-artist, see W.T. Parnham, Von Tempsky: Adventurer... (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1969) and Rose Young, et al, G.F. von Tempsky: Artist & Adventurer (Martinborough, New Zealand: Alister Taylor, 1981). Also, Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, which states in part:
Abbey, Travel in Aquatint and Lithography I:665. Field 1612. Palau 329979. Parker, Travels in Central America, p. 323. Hill I, p. 589: “This work has become very scarce and costly.” Hill II:1684:
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Route through Mexico, Guatemala & S. Salvador by G. F. v. Tempsky [below neat line] London Longman & Co. | Drawn & Engraved by Edwd. Weller Duke Strt. Bloomsbury. Folded copper-engraved map on thin, strong paper, with original outline hand coloring. Neat line to neat line: 28.8 x 33.9 cm; overall sheet size: 34.2 x 35 cm.
 Mexican near the Hacienda. del Valle. Image size: 9 x 15.2 cm. Lively scene on a hacienda, with excellent costume details and several men on horseback, including one riding like the wind and whirling a lasso. Frontispiece.
 View of Durango from the Santuario. Image: 9 x 15.2 cm; overall sheet size: 13.2 x 25.4 cm. City view of Durango in which figures lounge on a tile patio overlooking scenery and Durango in the distance. A man on horseback and a blue carriage are outside the patio perimeter; smaller figures are in the distance. Folding plate after p. 44.
 Fight between the Ranchero and the Indian Antagonists. Image size: 9 x 15.7 cm. Animated clash between equestrians: a well-armed rancher on a white horse and Native American warriors wielding shields and arrows. Following p. 166.
 Main Building of the Ruins near Mitla. Image size: 10.5 x 16.8 cm. Placid view of Mitla with two men in rocky foreground and mountains in background. Preceding p. 253.
 Lake of Atitlan. Image size: 10.2 x 16.9 cm. Majestic scene of the Maya country in the Guatemala Highlands, the centerpiece of which is Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America shaped by the volcanoes surrounding it. In the foreground is an equestrian figures and carriers, and at mid-ground is a white structure with a tile roof. Preceding p. 319.
 La Ramada. Domestic village scene. Plate facing p. 1.
 Plaza of Zacatecas. Typical plaza with tents and vendors against the backdrop of impressive colonial architecture and high mountains. Plate facing p. 157.
 Mexican Saddle.—(Silla-Esceleto.). Text illustration on p. 180.
 Two architectural plans of Mitla: [upper] First Group of Ruins near Mitla. [lower] Second Group of Mitla Ruins. Plate facing p. 250.
 Two views of Mitla: [upper] Main Building of the First Group. With Pillar of Death in the Subterraneous Chambers. [lower] Side View of a Flank Building of the First Group. Plate facing p. 251.
 Mexican Mosaic. Architectural detail of the corner of a stone wall at Mitla. Plate preceding p. 252.
 Two views of Mitla: [upper] Grand Hall of the Main Building of the Second Group. [lower] Chamber of the Main Building of the Second Group. Plate preceding color plate before p. 253.
 Indian Headman and Woman of Santa Catarina. Costume plate facing p. 363.
 Indians of Santa Catarina.—Woman and Child. Costume plate facing p. 365.
 Indian and Priest of Santa Catarina. Costume plate facing p. 368.
 [Marimba Player]. Text illustration of a musician on p. 385.
All measurements for are image area only irrespective of imprints and titles. Imprints are immediately below images and titles follow. Imprints are: Von Tempsky, Delt. | M & N. Hanhart, lith. Overall sheet size for all but the folded plate [2, below] is 13.2 x 21.8 cm.
Publisher: Spottiswoode and Co.
Date Added: 2019-01-21
von Tempsky, Gustav Ferdinand. Mitla. A Narrative of Incidents. Spottiswoode and Co.. 1858.
von Tempsky, Gustav Ferdinand (1858) Mitla. A Narrative of Incidents. Spottiswoode and Co..
von Tempsky, Gustav Ferdinand, Mitla. A Narrative of Incidents. Spottiswoode and Co.. 1858.