The pre-Hispanic Mixtec people of Mexico recorded political and religious history, including the biographies and genealogies of their rulers, in pictograms on hand-painted, screen-fold manuscripts known as codices. Functioning rather like movie production storyboards, the codices served as outlines of oral traditions to stimulate the memories of bards who knew the complete narratives, which were sung, danced, and performed at elite functions. Centuries later we have limited access to those original performances, and all that remains for our codex interpretation is what is painted on the pages—perhaps five to ten percent of their memory-encoded information.
Continuing the pioneering interpretation he began in Lord Eight Wind of Suchixtlan and the Heroes of Ancient Oaxaca, Robert Lloyd Williams offers an authoritative guide to the entire contents of the codex in The Complete Codex Zouche-Nuttall. Although the reverse document (pages 42–84) has been described in previous literature, the obverse document (pages 1–41) has not been, and it has remained elusive as to narrative. The Complete Codex Zouche-Nuttall elucidates the three sections of the codex, defines them as to function and content, and provides interpretive and descriptive essays about the Native American history the codex recorded prior to the arrival of Europeans in Mexico and the New World generally. With a full-color reproduction of the entire Codex Zouche-Nuttall and Williams’s expert guidance in unlocking its narrative strategies and structures, The Complete Codex Zouche-Nuttall opens an essential window into the Mixtec social and political cosmos.
- Foreword, by Rex Koontz
- Chapter 1. The First Historian of the New World
- Chapter 2. Historiography and Native History
- Chapter 3. Reading Techniques
- Chapter 4. Document 1 (Obverse), Part 1, Pages 1–13: Lord Eight Wind
- Chapter 5. Document 1 (Obverse), Part IIA, Pages 14–19: The Ladies Three Flint
- Chapter 6. Document 1 (Obverse), Part IIA continued, Pages 20–21: The War from Heaven and Lady One Death
- Chapter 7. Document 1 (Obverse), Part IIB, Pages 22–35: Genealogies
- Chapter 8. Document 1 (Obverse), Part IIIA–B, Pages 36–41: The Four Lords from Apoala
- Chapter 9. Document 1 (Obverse): Discussion and Interpretation
- Chapter 10. Document 2 (Reverse), Pages 42–84: Introduction to the Political Biography of Eight Deer Jaguar Claw of Tilantongo
- Chapter 11. Document 2 (Reverse), Sections 1–6, Pages 42–50: Parentage Statement, Childhood Military Career, Chalcatongo Event, Transition from Chalcatongo to Tututepec, Eight Deer as Lord of Tututepec.
- Chapter 12. Document 2 (Reverse), Sections 7–12, Pages 51–74: Eight Deer’s Toltec Alliance through the Conquests with the Toltecs
- Chapter 13. Document 2 (Reverse), Sections 13–14, Pages 75–84: The Battle in the Sky through the Siege of Hua Chino
- Chapter 14. The Four Voices of Mixtec History
- Appendix 1. The Mixtec Calendar
- Appendix 2. Occurrence of 260-Day Sacred Calendars in the 365-Day Mixtec Solar Calendar
- Appendix 3. The Cycle of 260 Days (Tonalpohualli)
- Appendix 4. The Calendrics of Codex Zouche-Nuttall Pages 42–84
- Appendix 5. The Mixtec Calendar Cycle Correspondences from Byland and Pohl (1994)
- Appendix 6. The Complete Mixtec/Aztec Calendar
Robert Lloyd Williams has studied the Mixtec codices since the 1980s and taught courses on them in the Mixtec Codex Workshop, which he cofounded with John M. D. Pohl, for twelve years. He is presently Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Texas State University–San Marcos.
“The key English-language commentary on a major part of the codex and the major recent synthetic commentary in any language.”
—Rex Koontz, Associate Professor of Art, University of Houston
"Page by page, Williams's textual analysis deciphers the sophisticated narrative structure, content, and chronologies of the pictogram sequences in the 84-page codex...This new edition of the codex, perhaps the best and most updated, with explanations of the text, includes the complete photos of the codex as well as appendixes with details on Mixtec and Aztec solar and lunar calendrical cycles and correlations."
—R. A. Santillan, Medgar Evers College, CUNY, Choice
With a full-color reproduction of the entire codex and the first modern commentary in English on the pre-Hispanic history it records, The Complete Codex Zouche-Nuttall unlocks the social and political cosmos of the ancient Mixtec.
This podcast was generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's
Latin American and Caribbean Arts & Culture Publication Initiative.