Codex Peresianus

Codex Peresianus Facsimile Edition

Middle America — 15th century

Ancient astronomy and mysterious rites: the magical world view of the Maya in colorful 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

Of the three Maya manuscripts still in existence, the Codex Peresianus is in the worst state of preservation (for example, the inscription and painting can only be recognized in the middle of the respective page). However, its other qualities prove that it can easily make up for this compared to the other two: the hieroglyphs are designed in extremely precisely executed forms and there are genuine precious objects and exciting special features to be discovered in the preserved centers of the pages, which are not only fascinating to specialists. In terms of content, the codex represents an important source for the magical-mystical world view of the Maya. Priests learned from it how to deal with appropriate cosmic energies in order to serve the well-being of the Maya. For understandable reasons, the original is practically inaccessible in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, which increases the value of this facsimile edition.

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
15th century

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Peresianus – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) Facsimile Edition
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

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.
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