Mexican Pictorial Manuscripts


Original Mexican Pictorial Manuscripts

The Latin American Library is the repository of ten original Mexican pictorial manuscripts dating from the early colonial period. All but one of the ten original manuscripts below have been dated to the sixteenth century. The Latin American Library's holdings of original pictorial manuscripts and comprehensive collection of codex facsimiles make Tulane University's collection of Mexican codices in the native tradition the most important in the United States.

Atatepec Land Claim [Petition to recover a tract of land from the marques]

Cuernavaca Region, Morelos. Native paper, 1 leaf, 43 x 24.5 cm., Native black ink, Spanish text in European brown ink at top, 1549.
Painting of disputed property and tribute from the pueblo of Atatepec (HMAI 183); related to similar documents in the litigation between Martín Cortés and Indians of the Marquesado del Valle over restitution of lands and rents. (HMAI 160).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books) 972.02 (333.2) A862

Census of Tepoztlán. Economic census of Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico

Morelos. Codex, European paper, 6 leaves, 31.5 x 21.5 cm., Native black ink & color, mid-16th century.

Population data on Tlalnepantla, a barrio of Tepoztlan, and ten neighboring towns. A pictorial census of houses, baptized men, widowers, widows with tears in their eyes, marriagable boys and girls, and younger children counted in the Aztec pictorial system. Spanish summary on last page. Folios 816-821 of a larger lost document. (HMAI 323)
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books) F1219.C42

Codex of San Francisco Xonacatlán

State of Mexico. Codex in Nahuatl on rough-quality native paper, 15 f. (of which 6 are text), 32.5 x 25 cm., color, late 17th or early 18th century.
Ex-Frederick Starr Collection. One of the most complete of the Techialoyan corpus of manuscripts and paintings in terms of content. Pre-Columbian and early Colonial history of Xonacatlán and account of lands granted the town in 1528 by the Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza (who did not arrive in New Spain until 1535), and boundaries of village lands described in detail. (HMAI 723).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Oversize) F1219.C78

Codex Tulane/ Códice de Huamelulpan

Acatlán, Southern Puebla. Vertical rolled tira on animal hides, 373.5 x ca. 22 cm., painted in color on one side, Mixtec glosses (front & back), mid-1550's. Ex-Samuel Daza of Tlaxiaco, Felix Muro, and Alfred Onken Collections.

Two contemporaneous Mixteca-Baja genealogies are presented in the only extant pictorial manuscript from the Mixtec-speaking region of Southern Puebla. Reading from bottom to top, a mythological-origin scene precedes fifteen generations of the Native rulers of place whose sign is a body of water with enthroned ruler and eagle, possibly Chila. The remainder of the codex is devoted to the dynasty of Acatlán, whose sign is a hill containing a jewel. This segment begins with a scene of a fire flanked by 15 generations of the town's rulers (on the right), accompanied by the parents of the women who marry them (on the left).

Inscriptions at the beginning of the roll are a "written map," giving the Mixtec names of the boundaries of San Juan Ñumí, a town in Northern Oaxaca about 100 kilometers south of Acatlán; Ñumí presented the codex as a mapa in land litigation in 1802 (HMAI 370).

Due to the fragile nature of this rare manuscript, researchers should consult the following facsimile editions:
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books) F1219.C778
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books) F1421 .T95 no.61 (Facsimile)
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Oversize) F1421 .T95 no.61b (Includes facsmile reproduction of codex rolled in canister.)

Náhuatl Fiscal Document [Manuscript in Nahuatl, written on maguey (?) paper. A record of money given every Sunday to a list of people].

Native paper, both sides of 2 leaves, 43 x 21 cm., Native black ink, late 16th century. In Nahuatl. Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Oversize) PM4068.M3
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books) F1219.56.C7874 C63 2007 (Facsimile)

Ordenanza del Señor Cuauhtemoc

3 leaves (2 of 6 sides blank), Native paper, 28 x 36 cm., some color, Náhuatl text, Late 16th-century.
Map of properties in Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco (copied from an ancient original); historical drawings and text regarding land and fishing rights dating from about 1430 and reaffirmed by Cuauhtemoc in 1523. (HMAI 92). The Ordenanza includes a migration map, which traces the history of the Aztecs to the reign of Itzcoatl, who succeeded to the rule of Tenochtitlan in 1417 and aided Nezahualcoyotl to recover Tezcoco. By the aid of Quauhtlatoa, king of Tlatelolco, he defeated Moxtla, king of Azcapozalco, thus laying the basis of the Aztec empire. The history was carried down to the time of Moctezuma (Xocoyotl) and his nephew Quauhtemotzin (Cuauhtemoc) who face various sub-chiefs in this drawing.
For more information, consult the facsimile edition, which includes a transcription, Spanish translation, and detailed commentary:
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books) F 1219.56 .O732 V35 2000

Testerian Manuscript

Codex, European paper, Native black ink, red & beige washes, 14 folios (small octavo), 10 x 7.5 cm., late 16th century.
Fragmented catechism used by friars for Indian conversion in New Spain. Contains distorted versions of Pre-Columbian pictographic writing possibly based on an earlier Nahuatl version and other symbols that could be phonetic or rebus in nature. (HMAI 827).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Tira de Tributos de Mizquiahuala

Mizquiahuala, Hidalgo, Mexico.
Fragment of a vertical tira, Native paper, 39 x 19 cm., color, 1569. Ex-Lorenzo Boturini Collection.

Fragment of a manuscript tribute roll on native paper. Record of payment (zacate (green corn stalks used as fodder for horses) for goods and services provided by the Indians to Corregidor Manuel de Olvera. Read right to left, left to right, etc. Spanish text on reverse (HMAI 221)
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Oversize) F1219.T5

Tribute Documents for Ohuapan and Tecuiciapan

Guerrero, Mexico. Codices, European paper, 4 leaves (2 double f. ea.), 31.4 x 22 cm., Native-style drawings in black and red on folio. 2v. of ea., Spanish texts in European brown ink, signed & dated by the Viceroy Luis de Velasco, June 18, 1557.

Decrees issued in Mexico City establishing tribute to be paid by the Indians of these two towns on the Río Balsas. With a similar document, the Codex of Teteltzcinco (HMAI 326), they form part of a larger manuscript now lost.
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Rare Copies of Unknown, Lost or Damaged Pictorial Manuscripts

The Latin American Library is the repository of nine rare copies of unknown, lost or damaged Mexican pictorial manuscripts dating from the colonial period.

Codex of Coacalco (Cohualcalco))

State of Mexico. Codex, European paper, 10 f., 29 x 21 cm., Náhuatl text, 18th-c. copy. Loose f., renumbered, possibly incorrectly; f. 1r and 3r-10v are copies of a lost Techialoyan ms. (or parts of 2); f.

1r is reminiscent of f. 1v of the Techialoyan of Zempoala (HMAI 705), while f. 3r-10v are similar to the Techialoyan of Tepotzotlán (HMAI 718). Folios 1v, 2r and 2v are not Techialoyan; f. 1v and 2v are mainly heads derivative of 16th-c. mss., one passage even suggesting the Mapa Sigüenza (HMAI 290), and f. 2r is a symmetrically ordered composition drawn on paper ruled for 8 lines of music. (HMAI 743).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Lienzo de Coixtlahuaca no. 1 (Codex Ixtlán, Lienzo B)

Coixtlahuaca, ex-District of Coixtlahuaca, Western Oaxaca, México. Tracing by Nicolás León on architects' drafting linen, 425 x 300 cm., probably made ca. 1890-1892 of a 16th-c. cloth lienzo. Ex-Paul Wilkinson and William E. Gates Collections.

Cartographic and historical; two large place glyphs and figures of Indians in center with numerous place signs, dates, Indians, and Spaniards on horseback around borders. The original Lienzo was rediscovered in 1940 and moved from the village, first to the Museum in Oaxaca and then about 1942 to MNA (35-113). The León tracing is of value because the original lienzo has many holes and tears that obliterate either partly or completely some details of glyphs, etc. (HMAI, 70).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books). [Rolled in a tube; shelved with the Rubbings collection.]

Lienzo Meixueiro

(Lienzo A), Coixtlahuaca Region, Western Oaxaca, México. Tracing by Nicolás León on architects' drafting linen, 360 x 380 cm., probably made 1890-1892, of a 16th-c. cloth lienzo. Ex-Paul Wilkinson and William E. Gates Collections.

Cartographic and historical; clearly related to Coixtlahuaca Basin group of lienzos, particularly Lienzo de Coixtlahuaca no. 1 (HMAI 70); see next entry. Exact location of main pueblo in center of lienzo and whereabouts of original, even its present existence, are now unknown. (HMAI 195)
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books). [Rolled in a tube; shelved with the Rubbings collection.]

Lienzo de Noxtepec

Guerrero, México. Tracing by William Spratling on architects' drafting linen in 2 pts., colored from the back: upper pt., 86.5 x 211.4 cm., Spanish glosses. Made August 15, [1929], of a 16th-c. cloth lienzo somewhere in Guerrero.

Cartographic and historical; glossed place glyphs, Native rulers, and streams and tributaries of the Río Balsas are shown. Another tracing of this lienzo by Spratling dated 1929 is in the Ayuntamiento of Taxco. (HMAI 238).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Lienzo de Tlaxcala

Tlaxcala, State of Tlaxcala, México. 19th-c. French (?) watercolor copy on European paper; 38 scenes, 24 x 28-30.5 cm. each, and explanatory inscription, 20.7 x 60.5 cm., of the final 49 scenes in lines 7 to 13 of the 1773 cloth copy by Juan Manuel Yllañes (MNA 35-45/48).

The Yllañes copy is believed to be from one of the three so-called lost "originals" of the Lienzo, painted ca. 1550 on cloth(?) or Native paper(?) and formerly in the Ayuntamiento of Tlaxcala. A large scene at the top is followed by 87 smaller scenes arranged in 13 horizontal rows. It depicts Spanish conquistadors arriving among the Tlaxcalans and their joint campaign of conquest to overthrow México-Tenochtitlán. The history of the Lienzo's lost "originals" and 11 known copies is extremely complex. The Latin American Library's (Tulane University) copy is possibly part of one reported by Alfredo Chavero in 1892 to have been exhibited at an Exposition in Paris or one made for the French Scientific Commission; the whereabouts of both of these copies are unknown. (HMAI 350).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Mapa de Cuauhtlantzinco (Codex Campos)

San Juan Cuauhtlantzinco, Puebla, México. 19th-c. watercolor copy on European paper; 26 scenes with 29 Náhuatl texts, ca. 30.5 x 83 cm. & 37.5 x 42.5), probably made about 1855 from the late-17th- early 18th-c. lienzo in the village. Ex-José Fernando Ramírez, Quaritch, and William E. Gates Collections.

The Mapa tells the story of an Indian cacique named Tepoztecatzin and his experiences during the Conquest of Mexico including the introduction of Christianity to his village. The original Mapa, consisting of 44 oil paintings of European paper, each 30 x 40 cm., was discovered in 1836 by the Padre D. José Vicente Campos. In 1855 he had them pasted on cotton sheeting and mounted in two woooden frames to save them from decay. Adolph F. Bandelier saw them briefly in 1881, and Frederick Starr, who visited the pueblo in 1895, photogoraphed each frame. Returning in 1898 to take better pictures Starr found that part of one frame had unfortunately been destroyed by fireworks. Starr described one of the stretchers as having 27 painted scenes (with 29 numbered Náhuatl texts) in 3 horizontal rows; the second had 17 paintings (111 of which were variants of ones in the first frame) in 2 horizontal rows with the odd one set crosswise at the right-hand end. A Spanish translation by Padre Campos assisted by townspeople in 1855-1856 was written on the border of the pictures on paper pasted on the canvas. When displayed, a semi-boustrophedon feeling in the arrangement, similarity of some of the subject matter, and stylistic parallels with Techialoyan painters should be noted. Another copy on a "tira" of paper but without the Náhuatl texts was made in 1892 and exhibited in Madrid for the Junta Colombina; it is now MNA (35-102). (HMAI 101).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Mapa de Santa Fe o de Pátzcuaro

Santa Fe de la Laguna, District of Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México, 1552. Watercolor on paper, 131 x 82.5 cm., torn condition.

Deals with a land litigation between the Indian settlements of Santa Fe and San Miguel Cuçaro and shows fields, trees, cemeteries, churches and other buildings, roads, and a boundary line marked by crosses on stones; Spanish inscription signed by Rodrigo Maldonado at the bottom. Another watercolor copy on smooth cardboard (MNA 35-105) was made in 1892 from the parchment original in the pueblo and was exhibited at the Junta Colombina in Madrid. The Tulane University-held copy was probably made at the same time. (HMAI 281).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Map of the Province of Maní

Yucatán, México. Circular map on European paper, 41 x 31 cm., European brown ink, copy of 1596; f. 9 of the Crónica de Maní (49 ms. f. in Lowland Maya & Spanish, 1557-1813). Ex-General Vicente Riva Palacio Collection.

The oldest document in the world known to be written in a Maya language in alphabetic script, the Crónica de Maní contains a 1596 copy in Native black ink (f. 1-5) and 17th-c. Spanish translation of the now lost 1557 Land Treaty of Maní; the map gives boundaries of the Tutul Xiu Province of Maní as of that Treaty. The Crónica also includes other documents in Maya and Spanish from 1642 through 1813 and two 17th- or 18th-c. colored maps of Calkini. (HMAI 192).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

Map of the Province of Sotuta

Yucatán, México. ( "Mapa antiguo del partido de Yaxcaba según existía en 1600" ). Old copy of circular map, European paper, 33 x 44 cm. Bound in at the end of Yerbas y hechicerías del Yucatán, Ms. in Spanish attributed to Ricardo Ossado, "alias el Judío," 401 p. & separate 26-f. ms.; probably the most complete known work on Maya medicine.

Highly conventionalized map of district around Tabí and Tibolon with written place names arranged radially within a circle; Yaxcaba, Yaxhaa and other places appear in the center. Related to Nachi Cocom survey of 1545 known through the Documentos de Tierras de Sotuta (HMAI 1167) copies in Codex Pérez (HMAI 1152). A letter from Nicolás Cen to Juan Pío Pérez dated October 5, 1844, is inside front cover. (HMAI 293).
Call Number: Latin American Library (Rare Books)

HMAI = Handbook of Middle American Indians Census. (John B. Glass in collaboration with Donald Robertson, "A Census of Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts," Article 23, & article 24 on Techialoyan mss. (Robertson) & 25 on Testerians (Glass) in v. 14, & 27B on prose mss. (Charles Gibson & Glass) in v. 15, continue the HMAI Census numbering system referred to as HMAI [no.] on this page.

MNA = Museo Nacional de Antropología, México.



Text adapted from:

Mexican Indian manuscript painting : a catalog of the Latin American Library Collection, Tulane University
Martha Barton Robertson. [New Orleans, La.] : The Library, [1991]

Call Number: Latin American Library F 1219.5.T85 1991


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