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Mixtec: Codex Zouche-Nuttall

Folio one and two, Codex Zouche-Nuttall, Mixtec, Late Postclassic period, 1200-1521, C.E., deer skin, 47 leaves, each 19 x 23.5 cm © Trustees of the British Museum
Folio one and two, Codex Zouche-Nuttall,  1200-1521, C.E., Mixtec, Late Postclassic period, deer skin, 47 leaves, each 19 x 23.5 cm, Mexico
© Trustees of the British Museum
This is one of a small number of known Mexican codices (screenfold manuscript books) dating to pre-Hispanic times. It is made of deer skin and comprises 47 leaves. 
Folio fifty (detail with enthroned Mixtec ruler, Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw), Codex Zouche-Nuttall, Mixtec, Late Postclassic period, 1200-1521, C.E., deer skin, 47 leaves, each 19 x 23.5 cm © Trustees of the British Museum
Folio fifty enthroned Mixtec ruler, Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw (detail), Codex Zouche-Nuttall, 1200-1521, C.E., Mixtec, Late Postclassic period,  deer skin, 47 leaves, each 19 x 23.5 cm, Mexico © Trustees of the British Museum
The powerful ruler Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw can be seen here (above), sitting on a throne with his name next to him (8 circles and a deer's head).
The Zouche-Nuttall Codex contains two narratives: one side of the document relates the history of important centres in the Mixtec region, while the other, starting at the opposite end, records the genealogy, marriages and political and military feats of the Mixtec ruler, Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw. This ruler is depicted at top center, next to his calendric name (8 circles and a deer's head). It was made by the Mixtec people, some of whom joined the Aztec empire. It uses a kind of picture-writing showing important Mixtec events, with special signs for names and dates.
Folio fifty, Codex Zouche-Nuttall, Mixtec, Late Postclassic period, 1200-1521, C.E., deer skin, 47 leaves, each 19 x 23.5 cm © Trustees of the British Museum
Folio fifty, Codex Zouche-Nuttall, 1200-1521, C.E., Mixtec, Late Postclassic period, deer skin, 47 leaves, each 19 x 23.5 cm, Mexico © Trustees of the British Museum
Very few Mesoamerican pictorial documents have survived destruction and it is not clear how the Codex Zouche-Nuttall reached Europe. In 1859 it turned up in a Dominican monastery in Florence. Years later, Sir Robert Curzon, 14th Baron Zouche (1810-73), loaned it to The British Museum. His books and manuscripts were inherited by his sister, who donated the Codex to the Museum in 1917. The Codex was first published by Zelia Nuttall in 1902.

Suggested readings:
E.H. Boone, Stories in red and black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs (Austin, University of Texas Press, 2000).
Z. Nuttall, Facsimile of an Ancient Mexican Codex Belonging to Lord Zouche of Harynworth, England (Cambridge, Mass., Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 1902).
G. Brotherstone, Painted books of Mexico (London, The British Museum Press, 1995).
C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British (London, The British Museum Press, 1994).
F. Anders, M. Jansen and G. A. Pérez Jiménez, Códice Zouche-Nuttall, facsimile with commentary and line drawing (Madrid, Sociedad Estatal Quinto Centenario; Graz, Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt; Mexico City, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1992).
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  • leaf blue style avatar for user Connie Martin
    In the entire codex why are some men painted red, others black, and some white? Are these depictions of three separate races?

    Connie
    (12 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user meganldebin
      We don't know this, but this is an interesting idea. They may have been depicting figures from different areas or villages. We do know that ancient priests would wear black paint, so the figures that appear to be painted black are priestly figures.
      (8 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Agnès Aubert
    Do we know when this codex was written?
    (5 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Bo
    If the Mixtec people had their own civilization, why did some people go on to join the Aztec?
    (2 votes)
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  • mr pants teal style avatar for user lthevenon
    Can you translate what the drawings mean?
    (2 votes)
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  • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user DFDowd89
    If the men in black are priests, do the men in white and red have other religious titles?
    (2 votes)
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  • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user DFDowd89
    Is the codices read each differently, or all the same? And if so, do you read them the British and American and other countries, left to right and top to bottom. Or perhaps a unique Aztec way of doing it?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Kermit
    I noticed there are many different animals with extraordinary colors and shapes. Are these actual animals that roamed in the pre-Hispanic times?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user coty.comeaux22
    what are the things in the codex were they animals
    (1 vote)
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  • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user DFDowd89
    Is there any writing in the Aztec codices, or is it all pictorial?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user ydeleon69
    Do all the drawings make only one or many sentences?
    (1 vote)
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