Florentine Codex

Image from Florentine Codex

Disguised Mexica merchants in Tzinacantlan acquiring quetzal feathers in Book 9. (all images courtesy of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence, and by permission of MiBACT)

In the 16th century, as the Spanish were conquering lands in the “New World,” Bernardino de Sahagún, a Spanish Franciscan friar began recording information about the Indigenous communities in central Mexico with whom he closely worked.

The result of this effort is the Florentine Codex. Modeled after medieval European encyclopedias, the Florentine Codex is a three-volume, 12-book collection written in Spanish and Nahuatl documenting the daily life and customs of the Mexica (Aztec) people, as well as other information including astronomy, flora, and fauna, during the time of Spanish conquest.

While Fr. Sahagún is frequently cited as the primary author, the 12-book manuscript is the result of many individuals. Numerous elders, grammarians, artists, and scribes from the Nahua community participated in the creation of the codex.  As a result, the codex maintains an important Indigenous focus.  This Mexican Indigenous perspective is often missing from historical accounts of the period.

After centuries of remaining largely inaccessible to the public this codex is now available online!

For the complete article [including images and links] click Hyperallergic.com.