Codex Borgia

Codex Borgia

Written possibly in the zone of Puebla-Tlaxcala-Cholula (Mexico) — 15th century

Painted and folded sheets with a total length of almost 11 meters: a richly illuminated testimony to the seemingly strange world of ancient Mexico before the arrival of the Conquistadores

  1. 39 pages painted and folded on both sides with a total length of almost 11 meters

  2. The description of the great "national" temple rituals distinguishes it among other Aztec manuscripts

  3. Includes a calendar for making predictions but also rituals that are of a private and personal character

Codex Borgia

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Edition available
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (3)
Description
Codex Borgia

The surviving manuscripts of Old Mexico describing the culture of the indigenous civilization are some of the most precious illuminated manuscripts in existence due to their rarity, exotic decoration, and value as historical and anthropological sources. The Codex Borgia is completely unique among the group of old preserved Mexican manuscripts due to its description of the great "national" temple rituals. It also includes descriptions of the temple priests, the rites they performed, and the knowledge they possessed.

Codex Borgia

The Codex Borgia is probably one of the most beautifully preserved indigenous American illuminated manuscripts. The predominant content of the manuscript deals with calendar sooth-saying, as well as the knowledge of time-lapse and yearly time through the temple scholars. Fantastic illustrations of groups of figures and mysterious gods animate the 78 illustrated pages of the manuscript. Additionally, one also finds the most amazing rituals from the grand Aztec empire, which is particularly fascinating because they are rituals of a primarily private and personal character. The Codex Borgia is completely unique among the group of old preserved Mexican manuscripts due to its description of the great "national" temple rituals. The spiritual acts provide witness to the seemingly strange world of old Mexico before its destruction by the Spanish Conquistadors. The wealth of information which guides us through the pages of this splendiferous manuscript is inexhaustible. The great wisdom of the old priest scholars is masterfully depicted. The drawings demonstrate a deeply intimate design as well as the artistic accomplishment of the painter. In completing this old Mexican manuscript, the painter shares an insight into a magnificent and extinct culture.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Borgia-Codex
Códice Borgia
Codex Borgianus
Codex Mexicanus Borgianus
Codice borgiano
Codice messicano borgiano
Codex de Velletri
Codex Yoalli Ehēcatl
Size / Format
78 pages / 27.0 × 26.5 cm
Origin
Mexico
Date
15th century
Script
Pictographs
Illustrations
76 miniatures
Content
Information on the Aztec religion, including rituals and festivals
Previous Owners
Cardinal Stefano Borgia (1731–1804)

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Borgia – Cod. Vat. mess. 1 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1976

Códice Borgia
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2008
Limited Edition: 980 copies

Códice Borgia
Egeria, S.L. – Madrid, 2008
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Detail Picture

Codex Borgia

The Deceased God Mixcóatl

Found at the top of an enigmatic calendar square that may be intended to describe the cardinal directions in the land of the dead, we see the god Mixcóatl with his distinctive red-and-white-striped skin and a black mask over his eyes. He is dead with his eyes closed, wrapped in a bundle, and adorned with funerary banners on his throne. Mixcóatl was the god of the hunt, the father of Quetzalcóatl, and patron of the day signs of the South, which are pictured in the red squares at his feet.

Codex Borgia
Single Page

Codex Borgia

The Naguals

Aside from describing temple rituals and Aztec deities, this rare Pre-Columbian manuscript also depicts naguals – shapeshifters common to several Mesoamerican folk traditions. Sometimes a part of a community’s religious hierarchy, although someone treated with a mixture of fear and respect, other naguals were treated with hostility and lived as outcasts.

The naguals could transform into animals, which is part of the Mesoamerican belief in tonalism, whereby every person has an animal with whom they have a close spiritual link determined by their birthday. This bizarre, brightly colored, and intricately detailed miniature page has a psychedelic aesthetic, an indication of the importance of hallucinogenic drugs in this religious tradition.

Codex Borgia
Facsimile Editions

#1 Codex Borgia

Codex Borgia – Cod. Vat. mess. 1 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Codex Borgia – Cod. Vat. mess. 1 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Binding: Screenfold-facsimile and commentary encased in box with leather spine.
Commentary: 1 volume (52 pages) by Karl Anton Nowotny
Languages: English, French, Spanish

Karl Anton Nowotny, Cologne. Summaries in English, French and in Spanish. 52 pp., folded plate, 8 figs.
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Please ask for a quote!

#2 Códice Borgia

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2008
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Screenfold-facsimile between two wooden boards joined with leather and commentary encased in box with leather spine.
Commentary: 1 volume (556 pages) by Juan J. Batalla Rosado
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.

#3 Códice Borgia

Egeria, S.L. – Madrid, 2008

Publisher: Egeria, S.L. – Madrid, 2008
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Screenfold-facsimile and commentary encased in box with leather spine.
Commentary: 1 volume by Elena Landa
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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