Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Unknown Aztec artist, Codex Mendoza

Unknown Aztec artist, Codex Mendoza (c. 1542)
This codex was made with the mission to show the Holy Roman Emperor and king of Spain, Charles the 5th, the culture and history of the people that had recently be conquered by the spanish conquistador  Herman Cortez. I find this to be a valiant effort in line with the Alexander the Great or Akbar of the Mughal leaders on India. The book is named after Antonio de Mendoza, first Viceroy of Mexico, who is believed to have commissioned it.  Learning about the culture might have allowed the king to better govern his subjects in the new world, provided that they could overcome their sense of superiority based on race. I only say might in this situation because the manuscript never made it to the king. French privateers raided the ship carrying the codex, and eventually the document made it to the hands of the cosmographer of the french king. This man's name was André He sold the codex to another man for 20 French Francs. Some time later it was passed to a man actually named Samuel Purchase. After the death of Purchase's son, the codex was given to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. The codex show a highly advanced society. Their society was incredibly advanced. Kings were selected by a council of nobles to insure that the best person could rule; Aztec made obsidian blades were the sharpest in the world and are still used by surgeons to this day. The Codex Medoza validates this by showing some of the tools that aztec used to make their lives better, some of which can be seen below.
The codex also shows details about the life before the Spanish took over. A long line of kings and their military history is show. The religion of the aztecs is highlighted as well. 

More information on Aztec art

English analysis and reprint of the Codex Mendoza

Information on other aztec and spanish codexes 

Some Aztec poetry


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