Is the Techichi a Rodent?

In a communication from the leader of one of the lists I belonged to, I was told that techichi were rodents and they were extinct. I asked her for her reference on this, even while I tried to researched the root words that makeup techichi.

Finally! I found the following claims by a PhD in cultural studies Dr Arnoldo Vento.

Techichi—a quadruped mammal (eaten by Spaniards) now extinct, prized for its taste; changed meaning Dog.

I found this tidbit in an article by Vento regarding Human Sacrifice by the Aztecs. Vento takes one of the strongest Chicano viewpoints I have seen from a PhD.

When an elder native was asked about eating human flesh, he smiled and asked the interrogator if he knew what Iztkuintli was. He relates the story that has been passed on for generations about an incident in which toddlers were playing among Izkuintli. He says that the Spanish did not tolerate toddlers playing with Iztkuintli so they would often shout “fuera de aquí escuincles”! He obviously was referring to what they called dogs but somehow escuincle (the current mexicanism) was confused and deformed in colonial society to mean a young toddler.

The Iztkuintli was not a dog as Jesuit researcher Clavijero asserts but a Techichi, not of the canine family. The Techichi was a succulent delicacy during those times. But because the Spanish used the word escuincle (dog) instead of the correct word of Techichi, linguistic deformation set in and soon the friars were saying that children were being eaten roasted when in fact it was the savory and succulent Techichi. It was so delicious that Jesuit writer Clavijero states that in fact, it was the Spanish that ate them to extinction when there was a meat shortage in the Indies.

Vento’s bio: Arnoldo Carlos Vento was born and raised in South Texas. His B.A. is in French and Spanish Literature (University of Texas-Austin); his M.A. and Ph..D. in Spanish-American Literature. (New Mexico Highlands, University of Missouri-Columbia). After developing Chicano Studies programs in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Texas (1972-1981), he concentrated on creative writing and research. His contributions include: (1) Chicano Studies– Chicano Studies program development, co-founder of Canto Al Pueblo., various anthologies, several critical texts, short stories and articles. (2) Spanish Literature–various critical books (Mexican, Peninsular & Chicano Letters) novel, short stories and articles. (3) Pre-Columbian culture and civilization–articles in Chicano and anthropological journals, various chapters in two critical texts, screenplay. Currently working on text which reconstructs Aztec culture and civilization from the Native American perspective.

OK. There is not too much I can do with this, but let it be noted. Fermin Herrera, another cultural studies Professor, and on the Chicano side, himself, is the author of a little dictionary of Aztec in which, Techichi and Iztquintle were both translated simply as “dog”.

I will keep this page open for any more information along these lines.

The tepetzquintle is a rodent. It used to be found in Mexico, but is now restricted to south of  Mexico.


1 Comment

Arnoldo Carlos Vento

See the following article: Vento, Arnoldo Carlos. “Itzcuintli o Techichi: ¿Perro o pieza de resistencia culinaria?” (7pp) Insightful article showing the blunders of Spaniards regarding the naming of animal and fauna in the Americas. Of particular interest is the fallacious assumption of eating dogs by the Aztecs. (In Spanish)
Eagle Feather Research Institute

$4.00 $7.00


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