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Codex Mexicanus

Codex Mexicanus

The Codex Mexicanus was written in the second half of the sixteenth century by Christianized Nahuas. It covers a wide array of topics relating to history, time, religion, and health. Its largest section is a visual history of the Aztec people, beginning with their exodus from the mythical island of Aztlan in the year 1 Flint (1168), depicted here. To the left, a group of migrants line up behind a stream of water, carrying bundles and walking sticks. They are guided by the god Huitzilopochtli in his avian form standing atop a tree, and a leading migrant looking back and raising his hand, gesturing to his compatriots to join him on the time line, represented as blue squares, their entrance into time and history. To the right, the migrants continue their journey forward, indicated by footsteps and walking figures. Between 2 House (1169) and 4 Reed (1171), a glyph of a forked hill populated by the faces of migrants perhaps indicates their arrival at Tepemaxalco (broken hill). The eagle standing over the year 5 Flint (1172) is likely a representation of Huitzilopochtli.

 

Image Source

  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Mexicain 23–24 (Codex Mexicanus), ca. 1590, fols. 18–19. Courtesy of gallica.bnf.fr / BnF.

Further Reading

  • Diel, Lori Boornazian. The Codex Mexicanus: A Guide to Life in Late Sixteenth-Century New Spain. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018.
 

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