Domesticated insect used to make lacquer to decorate bowls and other artifacts

 

In the Achi Mayan language of Rabinal the insect is called niij. Several web sites give Nz’uz’n as the word in Yucatec language, but aside from that not looking like a Mayan word, when you Goggle just that you get nothing but junk pages. The correct word in Yucatec Maya language is Ni-in.


In Michoacán area of Mexico the insect is called aje (spelled several ways).


Many years ago biologists named this insect Coccus axin. But Llaveia axin is the accepted zoological name today.


The lacquer insect and the cochineal insect look, act, and have life habits similar to each other, but they are not even of the same genus. However they are both scale insects and are easily confused with each other.


In Guatemala you can find these in Rabinal. In Mexico in Chiapa de Corzo area, and further north in Michoacan. You should be able to find them in Yucatan. We have not yet found them mentioned much in books on the Lacandon Maya of Chiapas, but, if they have cochineal insects they should also have lacquer insects too.





Bibliography on Niij, Ni-in, Aje, a domesticated insect which produces lacquer.



 

 

Annotated bibliography on Niij, Ni-in, Aje, A domesticated insect which produces lacquer

Niij, Llaveia axin, aje, scale insect, domesticated animals, Achi Mayan people.





  • BARRERA, F. and A. PRADO
  • 2003
  • Investigacio´n y recuperacio´n del aje como materia prima artesanal 2001-2003. Ukata: Revista del Arte Popular Michoacano, Editorial Grupo IBISA. Me´xico. 51 pages.

  • BEN-DOV, Y.
  • 2005
  • A systematic Cataloge of the Scale Insect Family Margarodidae (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) of the World. Publisher Intercept Scientific Technical Medical, London, UK.

  • EDWARDS, J. G.
  • 1997
  • Giant cargarodid scales from Yucatan. Pan-Pacific Entomol. 46: 68.

  • HEIL, C.
  • 1995
  • The pre-columbian Lacquer of West Mexico. NEARA Journal XXX:32-39.

  • HERRERA, Alfonso
  • 1884
  • Naturaleza. Sociedad Mexicana de Historia Natural, Tomo VI, Anos de 1882-1884, Imprenta de Ignacio Escalante, Mexico. The insect aje, ni-in, is mentioned on pages 198-210, 282, 375. Actually there are several articles within these pages; the second is by Joaquin Donde Ibarra.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=gMogAQAAMAAJ&

  • JENKINS, Katherine Drew
  • 1964
  • Aje or Ni-in (the fat of a scale insect) painting medium and unguent. XXXV Congreso Internacional de Americanistas, Mexico. Actas Mem. Pages 625-636.

  • JENKINS, K. D.
  • 1970
  • The fat-yielding coccid, Llaveia, a monophlebine of the Margarodidae. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 46: 78-81.

  • JIMENEZ González, Victor Manuel
    (Editor).
  • 2009
  • Chiapas: Guía para descubrir los encantos del estado. Mexico City: Editorial Océano de México, SA de CV.

  • JOHNSON, D. L.
    and B. K. SWARTZ, Jr.
  • 1989
  • Evidence for Pre-Columbian Animal Domestication in the New World. paper read at the Central States Anthropological Society meetings, March 11, 1989. On-line.

  • KOSZTARAB, M.
  • 1987
  • Everything unique or unusual about Scale Insects (Homoptera: Coccoidae). Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America 22 (4):215-221.

  • LUNA Parra, Georgina
  • 2002
  • El arte popular en Chiapas, maravillosas manos artesanas. Popular Art in Chiapas, marvelous artisan hands (in Spanish). Mexico Desconocido magazine, Mexico City.

  • LLORCA, A.
  • 2001
  • Caracterización química de la grasa de insectos Niij (Llaveia axin Llave, Homoptera: Margarodidae). Licenciatura thesis, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.

  • MacVEAN, Charles M.
  • 1994
  • Identification of Nij insects and their wax: deriving a sustainable industry from biological resources used by the Maya. Proc. Int. Meet. Soc. Conserv. Biol. Assoc. Trop. Biol. Guadalajara, Mex. 114.

  • MacVEAN, Charles M.
  • 1995
  • Identification of Nij insects and their wax: deriving a sustainable industry from biological resources used by the Maya. Report to the Biodiversity Support Program (WWF) Project # 7577.

  • MacVEAN, Charles M.
  • 1999
  • Laca artesanal, producto del insecto Niij. Revista Galería Guatemala (Guatemala, Fundación G&T) 2(6): 90-93.

  • MacVEAN, Charles M.
  • 2008
  • Lacquers and Dyes From Insects. In Encyclopedia of Entomology Part 12, Capinera J. L. (ed.).

  • MacVEAN,, Charles M., SCHUSTER, Jack C.
    and Enio B. CANO
  • 2001
  • Adaptive Radiation in the Tropics: Entomology at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. American Entomologist, Fall 2001, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp.138-144.

  • MARTINEZ, F. M.
  • 2006
  • La laca de los Achies. Prensa Libre (newspaper), Guatemala City.

  • McBRYDE, F. W.
  • 1943
  • The Black lacquer mystery of Guatemala Maya Indians. Science Monthly 57:113-118.

  • SANCHEZ Rosas, Hernesto Alonso
  • 2001
  • Adaptive Radiation in the Tropics: Entomology at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. American Entomologist, Fall 2001, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp.138-144.

  • MacVEAN,, Charles M., SCHUSTER, Jack C.
    and Enio B. CANO
  • 2011
  • Abundancia de la poblacion del aje (Insecta: Hemiptera: Margarodidae: Llaveia axin axin) en la region sur occidente de Michoacan. Thesis, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidaldo, Facultad de Biologia. 48 pages.

  • SUAZO-Ortuño, Ireri, VAL-de Gortari, Ek del,
    and BENITEZ-Malvido, Julieta
  • 2013
  • Abundancia de la poblacion del aje (Insecta: Hemiptera: Margarodidae: Llaveia axin axin) en la region sur occidente de Michoacan. Thesis, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidaldo, Facultad de Biologia. 48 pages.

  • TEC
  • 2007
  • Investigadores del TEC de Tuxtla Gutierrez de la UNAM discubren bacterial reforestadora. Tecnologico Nacional de Mexico, Web page.
    www.tecnm.mx/ciencia-y-tecnologia/investigadores-del-tec-de-tuxtla-gutierrez-y-de-la-unam-descubren-bacteria-reforestadora

  • WILLIAMS, M. L.
    and Charles M. MacVEAN
  • 1994
  • Ethnococcidology: Use of the giant margarodids, Llaveia spp., by indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica in their culture, medicine and arts (Homoptera: Coccoidea: Margarodidae). Proceedings, Seventh International Symposium on Scale Insect Studies, June 1994, Bet Dagan, Israel. Israel Journal of Entomology XXIX: 147-148.

 

First posted June 7, 2016.