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Codex of Huamantla

World Digital Library,


The context in which this codex was created is unknown, but its purpose clearly is to tell the story of the Otomi people of Huamantla. The center of the painting depicts the migration of a group of Otomi from Chiapan, in the present-day state of Mexico, to Huamantla, which is located in present-day Tlaxcala state. The migration, which took place in the Post-Classical period, was undertaken under the protection of the goddess Xochiquétzal and of Otontecuhtli, lord of the Otomi and of fire. The glosses contain the names of the leaders who led the migration. In the depiction of Teotihuacan (location of the large pyramids of the Classical period), the pyramids are shown covered in vegetation, i.e., abandoned. In the 16th century, Otomi culture appears to have been permeated with Nahua material culture, language, and mythology; alongside the pyramids is a representation of the Nahua myth of the birth of the sun. The second pictographic group, added above the first by another artist, uses less space and a smaller scale to show the participation of the Otomi in the conquest of Mexico and the lives of the Otomi under Spanish domination.
Note: The codex first belonged to Mexican scientist Antonio de León y Gama (c.1735-1802), then it became part of Lorenzo Boturini’s collection (Sondrio, Italy c.1702 to 1755), who identified many of the inscriptions. It is a document developed during the early colonial period containing pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican writing and pictographs. It contains glosses in Nahuatl written in the Latin alphabet, which were deciphered by the Mexican anthropologist Luis Reyes, and which are now mostly erased.
Place: Latin America and the Caribbean; Mexico; Tlaxcala; Huamantla
Institution: National Institute of Anthropology and History INAH
Physical description: Large format cartographic-historical codex, painted on thick pieces of amatl paper. When complete it measures approximately 8.50 X 1.90 meters.First fragment, 47 X 114 centimeters. Second fragment, 154 X 92 centimeters. Third fragment, 187 X 95 centimeters. Fourth fragment, 189 X 91 centimeters. Fifth fragment, 242 X 95 centimeters. Sixth fragment, 50 X 178 centimeters.