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(tərä`skən), Native Americans of the state of Michoacán, Mexico. Their language has no known relation to other languages, and their history prior to the 16th cent. is poorly understood. The polity present at the time of the Spanish conquest (1521) had roughly the same territorial outline as the contemporary state of Michoacán, which it successfully defended against a protracted and bloody Aztec attack in the year 1479. Their capital, Tzintzuntzán [place of the hummingbirds], was located on the shore of Lake PátzcuaroPátzcuaro
, lake, c.100 sq mi (260 sq km) Michoacán state, W Mexico. Its indented shores, dotted with Tarascan villages, green islands, and the curious native sailboats help make Lake Pátzcuaro popular as a resort. The lake is rich in fish.
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 and had a population of 25,000 to 35,000. Peculiar to Tarascan culture were T-shaped pyramids, rising in terraces and faced with stone slabs without mortar. They were skilled weavers, and were famous for their feathered mosaics made from hummingbird plumage. Most of the over 100,000 contemporary Tarascans are impoverished residents of small rural communities who supplement agricultural production with craft specializations (e.g., weaving, embroidery, woodworking, and lacquerware) and seasonal migration to the United States.


See R. A. M. van Zantwijk, Servants of the Saints (1967); I. R. Dinerman, Migrants and Stay-at-Homes (1982); J. B. Warren, The Conquest of Michoacan (1985).

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References in periodicals archive ?
McCorkle, Houses and House Use of the Sierra Tarascans (pp.
Past and present programs in Latin America shaped his ideas, including Franz Boas' short-lived Mexican anthropology school that started in 1910, the Carnegie Institution's long-standing Maya Project, the Institute of Andean Research's archeological projects, and the Tarascan Project involving American and Mexican scholars (Steward, 1950; Foster, 1967).
The island, called Apupato, belonged to the powerful Tarascan Empire, which dominated much of western Mexico from A.D.
The Purepecha people-named Tarascan by the Spanish-were formidable enemies with their neighbors, the Aztec.
The people were always more "tarascan" than in other barrios around town.
Among the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, the Tarascan state has long been recognized as the preeminent power in Western Mexico from about 1350 A.D., the time of the Spanish conquest.
Helen Pollard has performed a valuable service by condensing what we know about the Tarascan state between the covers of this book.
Indeed, the author shows that many of the Tarascan (or Purepecha) nobles accepted and adopted Christianity and became themselves highly educated Christian humanists.
The Tarascan Indians who inhabit the area to the west of Mexico City in the state of Michoacan in and around the city of Morelia, were fine craftsman in metals long before the Spanish arrived in Mexico.