16 June 2015
ROMERO, Francisco (1659-c.1705). Llanto sagrado de la America meridional. Milan: Marcos Antonio Pandulfo Malatesta, 1693.
4º (246 x 179mm). One folding woodcut plate, coloured in gouache by a contemporary hand. (Soiled, with final blank.) Contemporary calf (rubbed and crinkled). Provenance: Don Francisco Ortis [?]Sologolen -- Don Anazès Camacho – Manuel de Leys y Camacho (among various early signatures on front pastedown and front free endpaper; manuscript annotations in the hand of Manuel de Camacho).
THE EXCEEDINGLY RARE FIRST EDITION OF THIS 'SACRED LAMENT OF SOUTH AMERICA', ONE OF THE FIRST PLEAS IN DEFENCE OF NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS.
The large folding plate, engraved on wood, hand-coloured at the time, features an Indian temple from Sierra Nevada of Santa Martha (North of Colombia) with two natives from the Aruaca tribe.
Born in Peru, Francisco Romero was sent as a missionary to New Grenada (modern Ecuador and Colombia). His account aimed to stop the massacres of the Indians; he also describes the island of Cuba from where he sailed to Europe. Arriving in Cadiz in 1692, he travelled on to Rome and then Milan in 1693. In an unprecedented move, he not declined to destroy the idols of the Indians but actually preserved them and brought them to Europe as supporting evidence for his findings to be submitted to the headquarters of the Propagatio Fidei. They were rediscovered in the Vatican collections in 1974.
Furthermore, in this 'Sacred Lament of South America' one can find the origin of a number of literary legends, including those of King Kong (hairy creatures with human form living naked in the trees), the black kingdom and others.
Five copies are known: National Library of Spain (2 copies), British Library, John Carter Brown Library (reproduced in facsimile in 1955) and National Library of Chile in Santiago.
Brunet Supplément 500: "Volume de la plus extrême rareté"; Alden & Landis, European Americana IV, 698/152; Palau 277308; Sabin 73032: the only copy cited was in the collection of Ternaux-Compas, lacking one leaf.
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