Zouche-Nuttall Codex

Zouche-Nuttall Codex
Zouche-Nuttall Codex

The codices of medieval Europe are understood as books made up of sheets as separate pages and joined by some type of binding on one side. However, when talking about pre-Columbian codices found in Central America,the idea is different, and as a general rule it is a single sheet folded in the manner of an accordion.


Zouche-Nutall Codex

In this way, this type of codex could be extended along a wall or a table, to serve, for example, as graphic support for some discourse or representation. And an extraordinary example would be this Codex Zouche – Nuttall from the Mixtec culture. A work that would be carried out between the year 1200 and the beginning of the Spanish Viceroy alty in Mexico of 1521.

That is to say, its date of realization is not known exactly, as well as its authors are unknown. What is certain is that together with the Tro-Cortesian Codex of the Mayans or the Codex Borbonicus of the Mexicas, it is one of the great graphic treasures of pre-Hispanic Mexico. And in this case it is kept in the British Museum in London.

There you can see that it is a codex composed of a folding panel of 47 leaves. All of them made with deerskin, and also all of them illustrated on both sides.

In this way, one of the faces tells the story of the Mixtec ruler Eight Jaguar Claw Deer(1063 – 1115) of which we know that he had five marriages and had a frenetic military activity and conquests.

While on the other side we are presented with the genealogy of the dynasty that ruled the vast Mixtec territory (which would roughly coincide with the current Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla). And we are presented with that genealogy up to the last member of 1520, the year in which they were invaded by the Spanish army. That is why it is assumed that either it was done on those dates, or it was a work in which the different rulers of the Mixtec kingdom were incorporated.

In short, this is a work that, regardless of its artistic value, can be understood as a unique exceptional document to learn how the Mixtec people lived. Although it is true that they are images that also have a lot of hieroglyphics and symbols with very varied meanings or conventions abound when it comes to representing some characters that carry attributes such as headdresses or some weapons whose meaning is still unknown for sure.. For this reason, sometimes the most fanciful interpretations are made, which have little to do with real history. Or if. At the moment there is no way to check the truth or falsity of some theories.

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