Codex Cospi

Codex Cospi Facsimile Edition

Mexico — 1200–1250

Mysterious festivals and ancient rituals adopted in the new faith: a rare glimpse into the Christianization of ancient Mexico

  1. Pre-Columbian tabular calendars connected by a series of pictures and detailed descriptions of rituals

  2. Dates for the rituals are no longer selected according to the old calendar but Christian holy days instead

  3. Artistic echoes from the ceramics of the Nochistlan in the Mixteca Alta, but also the Cholula Tlaxcala

Codex Cospi

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Codex Cospi

The Codex Cospi is a 17th century manuscript that is part of the so-called Codex-Borgia-Group. Its artistic style has been influenced by that of the Nochistlan and the Cholula Tlaxcala and has been invaluable for preserving certain ancient rites, even bearing a calendar for calculating the holidays of the festive year.

Codex Cospi

The Codex Cospi is a brilliantly illuminated manuscript and belongs to one of the five so-called Codex-Borgia-Group. The manuscript is well preserved, painted on rawhide and protected by two covers from the 17th century, which probably replaced former wood covers. The artistic style of the Codex Cospi bears relation not only to the painted ceramics of the Nochistlan in the Mixteca Alta, but also to the style of the Cholula Tlaxcala. The evaluation of style is challenged by an archaeological problem which through excavations to date has been only partially solved. The front section of the Codex Cospi consists of three parts in which calendar arrangements in tabular form are connected by sequences of pictures. The original empty pages of the back section were at a later date inscribed by hand. Such rituals have been preserved to the present through different acculturative aspects. The selection of days for the rituals is no longer made according to the old calendar but rather according to the different Christian holy days.


Alternative Titles
Codex Bologna
Size / Format
20 pages / 17.80 x 17.85 cm
20 leaves painted on both sides, 24 full-page miniatures total
Previous Owners
Pope Clement VII (1478–1534)
Count Valerio Zani
Marchese Ferdinando Cospi (1606–86)
Cospi Museum
Istituto delle Scienze

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Cospi – Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna (Bologna, Italy) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1968
Detail Picture

Codex Cospi


The "dart throwing" deity representing the morning star of Venus is Tlāhuizcalpantecuhtli, a principal member of the Aztec pantheon of gods, one of the thirteen Lords of the Day, and one of the four gods who keep the sky up and is associated with the cardinal direction East. He is believed to cause harm to people by shooting darts and his victims vary according to the Aztec calendar. Tlāhuizcalpantecuhtli is even supposed to cause drought by shooting the rain.

Codex Cospi
Single Page

Codex Cospi

Tōnatiuh and Itztlacoliuhqui

With his bow-shaped face paint, Tonatiuh holds an incense spoon in one hand from which fragrant smoke, denoted by jewels, rises; in the other hand he holds an incense bag. A flowering tree towers over the temple and a vessel with flowers is in front of it. In its blue interior, a beautiful bird sings a song of gems and flowers.

Itztlacoliuhqui, a form of Tezcatlipoca with its face painting but without the torn foot, is presented as a moon god. Standing on a field of sharp stones, he holds an incense spoon smoking with a burnt offering in one hand and stabs his ear with a bone dagger in the other. In the green interior of the thatched-roof temple, an owl ominously cries "stone and wood" with a noctilucent cloud while a fire vessel burns in front of it.

Codex Cospi
Facsimile Editions

#1 Codex Cospi

Binding: Leporello folding. Together with commentary in half leather case.
Commentary: 1 volume (32 pages) by Karl Anton Nowotny
Language: German
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
Price: Login here!
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