Scholars explore the most significant trove of Nahua culture and language: an illustrated manuscript compiled after the Spanish conquest by a Franciscan friar with many indigenous authors and painters.
In the sixteenth century, the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún and a team of indigenous grammarians, scribes, and painters completed decades of work on an extraordinary encyclopedic project titled General History of the Things of New Spain, known as the Florentine Codex (1575–1577). Now housed in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence and bound in three lavishly illustrated volumes, the codex is a remarkable product of cultural exchange in the early Americas.
In this edited volume, experts from multiple disciplines analyze the manuscript’s bilingual texts and more than 2,000 painted images and offer fascinating, new insights on its twelve books. The contributors examine the “three texts” of the codex—the original Nahuatl, its translation into Spanish, and its painted images. Together, these constitute complementary, as well as conflicting, voices of an extended dialogue that occurred in and around Mexico City. The volume chapters address a range of subjects, from Nahua sacred beliefs, moral discourse, and natural history to the Florentine artists’ models and the manuscript’s reception in Europe. The Florentine Codex ultimately yields new perspectives on the Nahua world several decades after the fall of the Aztec empire.
- Preface and Acknowledgments
- Introduction. An Encyclopedia of Nahua Culture: Context and Content (Kevin Terraciano)
- Part I. The Art of Translation
- Chapter 1. Images in Translation: A Codex “Muy Historiado” (Jeanette Favrot Peterson)
- Chapter 2. On the Reception of the Florentine Codex: The First Italian Translation (Ida Giovanna Rao)
- Chapter 3. Reading between the Lines of Book 12 (Kevin Terraciano)
- Chapter 4. The Art of War, the Working Class, and Snowfall: Reflections on the Assimilation of Western Aesthetics (Pablo Escalante Gonzalbo)
- Part II. Lords: Royal and Sacred
- Chapter 5. Surviving Conquest: Depicting Aztec Deities in Sahagún’s Historia (Eloise Quiñones Keber)
- Chapter 6. Fashioning Conceptual Categories in the Florentine Codex: Old-World and Indigenous Foundations for the Rulers and the Gods (Elizabeth Hill Boone)
- Chapter 7. Teotl and Diablo: Indigenous and Christian Conceptions of Gods and Devils in the Florentine Codex (Guilhem Olivier)
- Part III. Ordering the Cosmos
- Chapter 8. Ecology and Leadership: Pantitlan and Other Erratic Phenomena (Barbara E. Mundy)
- Chapter 9. Bundling Natural History: Tlaquimilolli, Folk Biology, and Book 11 (Molly H. Bassett)
- Chapter 10. Powerful Words and Eloquent Images (Diana Magaloni Kerpel)
- Part IV. Social Discourse and Deviance
- Chapter 11: Rhetoric as Acculturation: The Anomalous Book 6 (Jeanette Favrot Peterson)
- Chapter 12. Flowers and Speech in Discourses on Deviance in Book 10 (Lisa Sousa)
- Chapter 13. Parts of the Body: Order and Disorder (Ellen T. Baird)
“A wonderful compilation of essays that will no doubt spark much discussion and generate future studies.”
Patrick Hajovsky, Southwestern University