The Codex Mendoza

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Author: Berdan, Frances F and Patricia Rieff Anawalt (editors)

Year: 1992

Publisher: University of California Press

Place: Berkeley


4 volumes: xix+254 pages with facsimile reproductions, maps, figures, illustrations, tables, appendixes and fold out textile motifs; ii+282 pages with maps, illustrations, figures, appendixes, bibliography and index; 152 pages (facsimile of the codex); 148 pages with a parallel image replica of the facsimile. Folio (14 1/4" x 11 1/4") bound in half leather with gilt lettering to spine and front covers, silk page markers bound into each volume. Contributing authors B Barker-Benfield, Kathleen Howe, Wayne Ruwet, H B Nicholson, Elizabeth Hill Boone, Edward E Calnek, as well as the editors. Deluxe edition limited to 1250 un-numbered copies.

The Codex Mendoza, currently residing in the Bodelian Library at Oxford University, England, is a vivid render of many aspects of pre-Contact Aztec life. It is the only Mesoamerican manuscript that pictorially combines Aztec conquests, tribute demands and an ethnographic account of life from cradle to grave. It contains seventy-two annotated pictorial leaves and sixty-three pages of commentary in Spanish. The folios are divided into three discrete parts. Part I (nineteen pictorial pages) documents the founding of Tenochtitlan and the history of Mexica conquests, chronologically by individual ruler. Part II (thirty-nine pictorial pages) is a detailed tally of the tribute demanded from the thirty-eight provinces subject to the Triple Alliance in the early sixteenth century. It begins with two folios showing imperial garrison towns. Part III (fifteen pictorial pages) is an ethnographic account of the Mexica daily existence, including colorful details on life cycle and education, warfare, political life, priestly training, crime and punishment, preparations for various livelihoods and avenues to high social esteem.

The codex was compiled some twenty years after the Conquest. It was drawn on European paper by native scribes under the supervision of missionary priests, who added annotations and commentaries in Spanish. While it appears that the document as a whole was prepared for the Spanish crown, there is little doubt that parts I and II were copied from earlier pictorials dating from pre-Hispanic times. Part III has no known indigenous analogue, and probably was composed specifically for inclusion of this document.


The four volumes are in very good to fine condition while the slipcase has a stain at the head board.

SOLD 2016

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