Codex Fejérváry-Mayer

Codex Fejérváry-Mayer – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – 12014 M – Museum of the City (Liverpool, United Kingdom)

Veracruz (Mexico)

A pre-Columbian masterpiece with a unique painting style: precious evidence of a lost world, today part of the famous Borgia Group of Aztec manuscripts

  1. A Pre-Columbian manuscript whose precise graphic style distinguishes it among the Codex-Borgia-Group

  2. The ownership history of the manuscript is shrouded in mystery, only the 19th century is well-documented

  3. Among the rarest handwritten documents in existence today, it offers a glimpse into a lost world

Codex Fejérváry-Mayer

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Codex Fejérváry-Mayer

In 1901, Prof. Eduard Seler, an Old Mexicanist from Berlin, praised the "fineness and the care in the execution of the drawing and the coloring" of this particular codex from the Borgia Group. It was Seler himself who had identified this group of the few preserved pre-Hispanic documents from Mexico. The Codex Fejérváry Mayer is made on a kind of parchment that was made of deer skin. It is a strip with a total length of 385 cm, divided accordion-like into 22 square tiles. One side represents the night side, as it features the guardians of the night, such as the god of the realm of the dead Mictlan Tecutli. The history of the manuscript's ownership is also obscure in places: it was not until the 19th century that the English antiquarian Joseph Mayer and the Hungarian collector and scholar Gabriel Fejérváry are identified as the namesake owners.

Codex Fejérváry-Mayer

The aesthetics of old Mexican illuminated manuscripts introduce the viewer into the world of reproduction – this access further supports the release of the Codex Fejervary-Mayer as volume VIII of the Codices Selecti by the Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (Academic Printing and Publishing House) Graz. The precise contouring and brilliant colors demonstrate a very precise graphic style comparable to that found within the Codex Laud. The Codex Ferjervary-Mayer is in a folded book form made out of deerskin containing 23 well-used and well-preserved leaves whose stucco coating serves as a base surface for the book painter to work on. With regards to the history of the codex, only the journey from Hungary to England in the 19th century is well-known. The quadratic shape of the Codex Fejervary-Mayer resembles to a large extent, that of the Laud and Cospi; this similarity between the three illuminated manuscripts is further emphasized by the common depiction of the illustrated number “5”. In this regard, a sub-group is created and sets itself apart from the so-called Codex-Borgia-Group.


Size / Format
46 pages / 17.5 × 17.5 cm
44 full-page miniatures
Sacred Aztec calendar
Previous Owners
Gabriel Fejérváry (1780–1851)
Joseph Mayer (1803–1886)

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Fejérváry-Mayer – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – 12014 M – Museum of the City (Liverpool, United Kingdom)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1971
Detail Picture

Codex Fejérváry-Mayer


Also known as Blue Tezcatlipoca because of his skin, Huītzilōpōchtli is a deity of stone, war, sun, human sacrifice, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan, home of the Mexicas, the rulers of the Aztec Empire. They sacrificed captives and slaves to him so that he would protect them from infinite night with his weapon, the fire serpent. His name comes from the word “hummingbird”; warriors and women who died during childbirth were transformed into hummingbirds upon death and went to join him.

Codex Fejérváry-Mayer
Single Page

Codex Fejérváry-Mayer

The Five Regions of the World and their Deities

The opening page of this Aztec calendar manuscript is centered around Xiuhtecuhtli, the god of fire, day, heat, and volcanoes whose names can be translated as "Turquoise Lord" or "Lord of Fire". He was considered to be the father of the Gods and dwelled in the turquoise enclosure in the center of earth.

The four cardinal directions of this spiritual map are represented by trees flanked by the “carriers of years”: East is shown at the top with a shaving brush tree, which is used for firewood, handicrafts, and to make a highly intoxicating drink; a cocoa tree represents South; a kapok tree for the North, whose bark can be used as a diuretic, an aphrodisiac, and to treat headaches; the so-called “Hummingbird Tree” represents West at the bottom.

Codex Fejérváry-Mayer
Facsimile Editions

#1 Codex Fejérváry-Mayer

Binding: Folding book in half leather case with commentary
Commentary: 1 volume (48 pages) by Cottie A. Burland
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
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