The costume codex

The costume codex

The first depictions of fashions from all over Europe, together with the first European representations of the Aztecs, in an exceptional manuscript

  1. The first manuscript of its kind depicting various European fashions was created by Christoph Weiditz (1498–1559)

  2. Additionally, the work contains the first European depictions of the Aztecs brought to Spain by Hernán Cortés (1485–1547)

  3. It is also a valuable source for cityscapes, landscapes, and depictions of everyday life in the 16th century

The costume codex

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
The costume codex

The enchanting Trachtenbuch or Costume Codex by Christoph Weiditz (1498–1560) is an important piece of fashion history with its smorgasbord of full-page depictions of European fashions, Spanish and Dutch in particular, from every class. It particularly caused a stir with its depictions of Aztecs with their traditional garments who had been brought to Spain by Hernán Cortés (1485–1547). This lovely collection probably arose between 1528 and 1529, when Weiditz was in Spain. He presumably also visited the imperial court of Charles V (1500–1558), where he completed the first European pictures of the Aztec ballplayers who presented their skills there.

The Costume Codex

The Costume Codex by Christoph Weiditz (1498–1560) is the first of its kinds with its depictions of European fashions, Spanish and Dutch in particular, from every class. These are accompanied by the first European depictions of the Aztecs brought back to Spain by Hernán Cortés (1485–1547), Weiditz was able to observe their presentations during his time at the imperial court of Charles V. The collection from his Spanish travels between 1528 and 1529 is remarkable, the German painter recorded everything he found interesting with his pen. As a result, that could equally be Spanish farmers ploughing or the colorful life and hustle of the port of Barcelona.

Fascination with Everyday Life

During his travels through Spain, it was the particulars of everyday life from which Weiditz drew the inspiration for his depictions. Thus, he was not only fascinated by the well-organized water system but also by the storage of wine in goat wine skins. Additionally, he recorded the imposing impression of the city and rural police in numerous depictions. When he arrived in Barcelona, his interest was aroused by the diverse life and bustle of the harbor. Thus, one finds pictures of horses being loaded unto ships, cranes being repaired, and numerous water bearers.

Costumes and Customs of the Netherlands

Alongside the comprehensive collection of pictures from the Spanish tour, there are also ten folios from a longer sojourn in the Netherlands. The depictions are primarily concerned with the costumes and customs in Hainaut, Flanders, Zealand, and Friesland. Therefore, one sees maids from Zealand who are kneading dough and a woman from Hainaut occupied with her needlepoint work.

Well-Known Faces

While a large part of the depictions are dedicated to unknown faces, there are a few costume pictures of identifiable people, who are opulently presented to the reader by Weiditz’s seemingly modern interest in costume history. The rich heiress Doña Mencía Zenette from the House of Mendoza is particularly well-dressed in a red-violet dress with olive-colored cuffs on the sleeves. Conversely, the Spanish ship master Andreas Doria enters in simple black clothes to encounter the emperor in Barcelona.


Available facsimile editions:
The costume codex – Hs 22474 – Germanisches Nationalmuseum (Nuremberg, Germany)
Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 2001
Limited Edition: 980 copies

El Codice de los Trajes Cristobal Weiditz 1529
Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 2001
Facsimile Editions

#1 Códice de trajes

Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 2001

Publisher: Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 2001
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Commentary: 1 volume by José L. Casado Soto and Carlos Soler d'Hyver de las Deses
Language: Spanish
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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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#2 El Codice de los Trajes Cristobal Weiditz 1529

Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 2001

Publisher: Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 2001
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. Reproduction of selection of 54 illustrations of the original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding. The facsimile edition includes 15 cards, each with 2-4 facsimile illustrations.
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