The Presence of a Woman: Images of La Malinche in el Lienzo de Tlaxcala

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

School of Art and Art History, College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Annabeth Headrick

Second Advisor

Scott Montgomery


Lienzo de Tlaxcala, Marina, c.1505-1530, Tlaxcalan Indians, History, Mexico, Conquest 1519-1540


La Malinche’s serene face and beautifully dressed figure dominates the first half of the lost sixteenth century manuscript El Lienzo de Tlaxcala, which exists today in the form of a copy made after the original. In this paper I propose an expanded study of these twenty-one representations of La Malinche as they offer insight into the Tlaxcalan’s reverence, respect, and spiritual belief in La Malinche. The Tlaxcalan leaders recognized her influence on both the Spanish and indigenous leaders during the conquest and cleverly designed a painted narrative to reinforce their connection with La Malinche to enhance their position with the Spanish. Through a multi layered study that consists of a detailed account of her biography in contrast to gender roles in Pre-Hispanic America, as well as formal and iconographic analysis of rarely examined images from the Lienzo de Tlaxcala that link La Malinche to the Virgin Mary, and a review of the ethnographic research on religious beliefs among contemporary Tlaxcalans, I will demonstrate that the mutable history of this woman made her the ideal supernatural protagonist for the people of Tlaxcala.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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