The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section is an illustrated history of the Aztecs. The third section contains the Tovar calendar, which records a continuous Aztec calendar with months, weeks, days, dominical letters, and church festivals of a Christian 365-day year. This illustration, from the third section, shows a man wearing a double necklace of blue beads with gold bells balancing an upright rope with the figure eight at its end. Above his head is a man pouring water from a vessel. The text describes how the gods stretch and sustain the machine of the world, so that the great violence of the winds does not destroy it. This month, identified as January, is called Stretching. Only Tovar, among known commentators on the Aztec calendar, describes this month as being the symbol of a dynamic cosmos. This month is often identified with the rites of weavers, whose patron goddess was Ilamatecuhtli.
Note: Illustration from verso leaf 155
Place: Latin America and the Caribbean; Mexico
Institution: John Carter Brown Library
Physical description: Ink and watercolor on paper ; 21 x 15.2 centimeters