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. (February 2013)
Turquoise mosaic mask. Mixtec-Aztec, 1400-1521 AD
Plate 37 of the Codex Vindobonensis
. The central scene supposedly depicts the origin of the Mixtecs as a people whose ancestors sprang from a tree.
The stucco reliefs in the Tomb 1 of Zaachila (The Valley, Oaxaca) reveal a remarkable influence from Mixtec art. It is likely that the tomb belongs to a person whose name is registered in the Nuttall Codex
. Tomb 1 of Zaachila, Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Late Postclassic.
The Mixtecs (/), or Mixtecos, are indigenous Mesoamerican peoples of Mexico inhabiting the region known as La Mixteca of Oaxaca and Puebla as well as the state of Guerrero's Región Montañas, and Región Costa Chica, which covers parts of the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla.
The Mixtec region and the Mixtec peoples are traditionally divided into three groups, two based on their original economic caste and one based on the region they settled. High Mixtecs or mixteco alto were of the upper class and generally richer; the Low Mixtecs or "mixteco bajo" were generally poorer. In recent times, an economic reversal or equalizing has been seen. The third group is Coastal Mixtecs "mixteco de la costa" whose language is closely related to that of the Low Mixtecs; they currently inhabit the Pacific slope of Oaxaca and Guerrero. The Mixtec languages form a major branch of the Oto-Manguean language family.
In pre-Columbian times, a number of Mixtecan city states competed with each other and with the Zapotec kingdoms. The major Mixtec polity was Tututepec which rose to prominence in the 11th century under the leadership of Eight Deer Jaguar Claw, the only Mixtec king who ever united the Highland and Lowland polities into a single state. Like the rest of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, the Mixtec were conquered by the Spanish invaders and their indigenous allies in the 16th century. Pre-Columbia Mixtecs numbered around 1.5 million. Today there are approximately 800,000 Mixtec people in Mexico, and there are also large populations in the United States.
Nomenclature and etymology
The term Mixtec (Mixteco in Spanish) comes from the Nahuatl word mixtecah [miʃˈtekaʔ], "cloud people". There are many names that the Mixtecs have for naming themselves: ñuù savi, nayívi savi, ñuù davi, nayivi davi. etc. All these denominations can be translated as 'people of the rain'. The historic homeland of Mixtec people is La Mixteca, called in Mixtec language Ñuu Savi, Ñuu Djau, Ñuu Davi, etc., depending on the local variant. They call their language sa'an davi, da'an davi or tu'un savi.