With Nancy J. Farrier
Remember those days studying history in school, when all the dates seemed to jumble in your mind along with the events ascribed to those dates? Maybe you wished history books came in comic book format so you only had to look at the pictures to understand. I know that was me. (I’m not sure my history teachers would believe I now write historical books and enjoy history.)
|Plate 1: 1st page of
260 day calendar
The Borgia Codex comes from Mexico before the time of Cortez and the Spanish invasion in the early 1500’s. The belief is that Aztec priests made this Codex to show happenings and predictions of what was to come. The Codex is not a book like we have with pages to turn but more of an accordion file that unfolds and shows the pictures inside.
|Plate 10: Page 2 of Deities
The Codex images are painted on a deer skin, prepared and covered with a foundation similar to gesso or stucco to show a better image. When unfolded, the Codex is 34 feet long. There are 39 sections and when folded up, the Codex is about 10.6 inches square. Each page is painted on both sides except for the end pages, so there are 76 pages of images. Most of the Codex remains in good shape even after all these years.
|Plate 25: Five directions
Those who have studied the Codex believe it is tonalámatl, an almanac of destiny. It contains such information as when to plant and harvest, good omens, bad omens, medical prescriptions, and details about sacred places. Most of the deities are shown in detail.
There are other codices that are similar in style and time period, but they are rare. Codex Rios, also referred to as Codex Vaticanus A, is considered a “rosetta stone” for deciphering the Borgia Codex and others like it. Codex Rios is also found in the Vatican Library.
|Plate 50: Page 2 of five
directional trees: North
The Borgia Codex gives historians a rare glimpse into civilizations that were nearly wiped out. The artwork in the Codex is phenomenal and the artistic value is immense. Almost all of the images for the Codex can be found and studied online.
Because I'm a history nerd and love to study the mesoamerican cultures, I have a copy of the contemporary book, Codex Borgia. It is fascintating with more information that I could possibly put in this post. The first plates show the calendar they used, followed by plates that show the 20 Deities from the 20 Names Days. Their calendar was a 260 day calendar and many of the predictions are based on that.
|Plate 71: Sun, moon
and 13 birds.
There are plates on marriage, life and death, supernatural beings, and nature. All of the symbols have a meaning and there is a chart in the book I have to show which symbols represent what day on the calendar. The drawings are intricate and detailed, difficult to take in and understand because the images have such meaning.
Have you ever seen any of these images or heard of the Borgia Codex? How would you like learning history from an image? I’d love to hear from you.
Today is my birthday. I would like to do a giveaway of one of my books. Please respond to this post by 11:50 PM PT today and I will put your name in a drawing. Please be sure to include your email so I can contact you. I will let you choose the book you want after you win. You can see the list of my books on my website.
Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning, best-selling author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats and dog, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.