Mexican Pictographic Manuscript


    A DOCUMENT of extreme interest to students of American pre-Columbian history and culture, the Mendoza Codex, now in the Bodleian Library, has been reproduced in facsimile by Mr. J. Cooper Clark, Captain T. A. Joyce providing a foreword. The Mendoza Codex is one of several pictographic manuscripts which have survived. It was prepared by the authority of Don Antonio de Mendoza, who was appointed the first viceroy of New Spain in 1535. The Codex-or rather collection of codices, for there are three-consists of seventy-one folio pages, the pictographs being in colour. The first part is a copy of an old Mexican chronicle, now lost, of the history year by year of the Lords of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, and a list of the towns they conquered. It covers from A.D. 1325 until the fall of the Empire in 1521. The second part is a carefully executed copy of the tribute roll to Motecuguma, the Mexican ruler, by upwards of four hundred towns. The original from which this is copied is now in the National Museum of Mexico, and consists of fourteen folios painted on maguey leaves. The third part of the Mendoza Codex is a compilation by the scribe for Mendoza's use, recording the life of a Mexican from day to day from the cradle to the grave. Although some of the pictures were included by Lord Kingsborough in his book on Mexican art a hundred years ago, this valuable manuscript has never before been reproduced in accurate facsimile as a whole. It has now been printed for private publication by Messrs. Waterlow on hand-made Whatman paper, the pictographs being beautifully reproduced in colour. There are three volumes, of which the first contains Mr. Cooper Clark's translation of the Spanish text with commentary, the second the interpretation of the Nahuatl place-name glyphs, now for the first time rendered in English, and the third volume is the facsimile in colour of the manuscripts. The subscription price of the three volumes is twenty guineas.

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    Mexican Pictographic Manuscript. Nature 142, 326 (1938).

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