Codex Peresianus

Codex Peresianus

Middle America

Astronomy and rites: the magical world view of the Maya in mysterious hieroglyphs and pictograms

  1. The design of these Mayan hieroglyphics is clear despite the deteriorated condition of the original manuscript

  2. The written culture of the Maya comes to life through these symbolic characters and pictograms

  3. They are rooted in the Mayans' magical religious worldview with strong astronomical and ritual connections

Codex Peresianus

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

The Codex Peresianus is among the most important surviving documents of ancient Mayan culture. Although the condition of the original manuscript has deteriorated greatly, the design of its hieroglyphics are so precise that they are deemed invaluable in spite of their damaged state. This manuscript provides valuable insight into the written culture and worldview of the Maya, and ranks among the most important pre-Spanish sources from Central America.

Codex Persianus

From the three preserved Mayan manuscripts, the Codex Peresianus (the name being derived from a note on a piece of paper that has since been lost), is of the poorest quality. Around the borders the lime overlay is peeled off, so that a detailed analysis is only possible of the picture and figures remaining in the center of the page. However, despite its poor condition of preservation, this codex ranks among the most important pre-Spanish sources from Central America due to the extremely precise design of the hieroglyphics and fascinating content found within. On the 22 pages (11 leaves) of the remaining fragments, the characteristic written culture of the Maya comes to life through the combination of symbol characters and symbol pictograms which are rooted in the magical religious world view of the Mayans and contain strong astronomical and ritual connections. Due to the poor degree of preservation, the original manuscript in Paris is inaccessible to view with the exception of only 2 pages and therefore the cost of expenditure in the making of the facsimile is more than worthwhile and has made the entire work accessible for all to view as well as study.


Size / Format
22 pages / 25.0 × 12.5 cm

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Peresianus – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1968
Detail Picture

Codex Peresianus


One side of the codex has a series of pages with the patron deities and associated rituals for a cycle of 13 kʼatuns, 20-year cycles of the Maya calendar. They all follow the same general arrangement: a standing figure on the left and a seated figure on the right, which is associated with a glyph indicating that they represent the ruling deity of each kʼatun. Each page also contains an ajaw day glyph, on which a ruler's kʼatun-ending rituals would fall.

Codex Peresianus
Single Page

Codex Peresianus

Symbols from the Mayan Zodiac

The last pages of the codex are a zodiacal almanac consisting of five rows of 364 days each, which are then divided into 13 units consisting of 23 days each. Constellations are represented by zoomorphic iconography, such as the scorpion and peccary, a pig-like animal indigenous to Central America, which hang upside down from the ecliptic band.

Thorough examination has led scholars to conclude that the end of the zodiac cycle illustrated within the manuscript reflects the fatalist mindset of the Mayans and the possibility that the decline of the Classic Maya civilization and the abandonment of Maya cities in the southern Maya lowlands of Mesoamerica during the 8th and 9th centuries was the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Codex Peresianus
Facsimile Editions

#1 Codex Peresianus

Codex Peresianus – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Codex Peresianus – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Binding: Folding book in half leather case with commentary
Commentary: 1 volume by Ferdinand Anders
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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