The only Aztec manuscript belonging to the Codex-Borgia-group that has retained its original form

Codex Vaticanus B

Codex Vaticanus B

Codex Vaticanus B

  1. The only Aztec manuscript belonging to the Codex-Borgia-group that has retained its original form

  2. The deerskin manuscript is painted on both sides and served as a reference for Aztec priests

  3. It is full of religious and prophetic content and was probably used inter alia to calculate the lunar year

Codex Vaticanus B

Alternative Titles:
  • Bibliorum sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B
  • Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209
  • Codex Vaticanus B
Codex Vaticanus B – Vat. gr. 1209 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Codex 3773 of the Vatican Library in Rome, also known as Codex Vaticanus B, is a fascinating ancient Mexican illuminated manuscript. Depicted on a 7+ meter long double-sided piece of parchment that folds to 48 pages, it boasts tabular plates with diverse, brightly colored miniatures. These provide information about the long-lost Aztec culture of Mexico, their calendar, religion, medicine, and many other aspects.

Codex Vaticanus B

With the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America at the end of the 15th century a great age of exploration began across the entire globe. However, this golden age of discovery also had a negative side, among them the downfall of numerous ancient cultures in the newly discovered and colonized regions. Fortunately, a few artifacts and documents survive, through which the knowledge of these downfallen worlds is preserved. The so-called Codex Vaticanus B from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana plays a special role for in the precolonial culture of the Aztecs in Mexico.

A Typical Aztec Manuscript

Codex 3773 or Codex Vaticanus B has preserved its precolonial look and feel to today and is consequently a unique testimonial to its origin. The codex consisting of 48 parchment pages is 15.5 x 13.5 cm when folded and is 7.3 meters long altogether when unfolded! The illuminated manuscript from Mexico is painted on both sides and presents Aztec culture, its fundamentals, and rituals in wonderful miniatures.

The Aztec Calendar in Focus

Alongside the calculation of the phases of the moon, feast days, and the 260-day calendar of the Aztecs with monthly rules inter alia, Codex Vaticanus B has twelve chapters with detailed explanations of the zodiac signs and a seven-part text group with comprehensive planetary teachings. Additionally, the illuminated manuscript provides information about the practice of humorism, which was already practiced since antiquity and even in realms as remote as Mexico. Additionally, medical aspects such as bloodletting, examining the color of the blood, cupping, and a few additional recipes are presented, which had health benefits.

The Artistic Content of the Illuminated Manuscript

All of these various aspects of Aztec culture are presented to the observant beholder in brightly colored miniatures, which combine human and animal figures with abstract, meaningful geometric patterns. Alongside tabular pages there are large-format primary pictures, which are surrounded by pictorial friezes. These appear almost like a visual language. Codex Vaticanus B – as a part of the Borgia manuscript group of the Vatican library – gives an exciting inside look into Aztec Mexico with its fascinating image program, which brings an entire culture back to life!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Bibliorum sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B
Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209
Codex Vaticanus B
Language
Content
Old and New Testament

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Codex Vaticanus B“

Bibliorum sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B
Codex Vaticanus B – Vat. gr. 1209 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
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Bibliorum sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato – Rome, 1999
Limited Edition
450
Commentary
1 volume by Paul Canart, Pierre-Marie Bogaert, Stephen Pisano
Languages: English, French
Details
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
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