Parution : Tlacuilolli : Die mexikanischen Bilderhandschriften. Stil und Inhalt. Mit einem Katalog der Codex-Borgia-Gruppe

Tlacuilolli : Die mexikanischen Bilderhandschriften


Nowotny, Karl Anton (1908-1978). Auteur

Résumé de l’éditeur

Tlacuilolli is the Nahuatl word for writing or painting, so that by the title the author sets out to discuss Mexican manuscripts in terms of both their style and content. The manuscripts discussed are members of the so-called Codex Borgia Group -the Codices Borgia, Cospi, Laud, Fejervary-Mayer, Vaticanus B, and the Culte Rendu au Soleil (Bibliothèque Nationale, Pars, Ms Mex No 20). the importance of these manuscripts lies in the artistic excellence or style of several (Borgia first and foremost) and in their significance as primary documents for the study of Pre-Hispanic Mexican ritual and their magical (mantisch) content. They are among the few primary sources for the knowledge of Pre-Hispanic religion from south central Mexico. Mixtec history manuscripts in whole or the largest part also Pre-Hispanic are mentioned more or less in passing for comparative purposes only. Tlacuilolli is significant for understanding certain phases of the problems adhering to the Codex Borgia Group. The first part of the book is a short, concentrated essay giving the setting of the Pre-Hispanic book. The Mexican manuscripts or codices are compared with manuscripts produced in European monastic centers of the Middle Ages. The text gives interesting insights and suggestive parallels between the New World and the Old World experiences. Although they are only analogous, these comments help the reader to understand some circumstances under which the Mexican manuscripts were made. However, there is always the danger that too much can be projected from Carolingian or Romanesque manuscript painting into Mexican painting. The art style is cover with a discussion of Maya manuscript style. The colors of the manuscript painters and parallels between South and North America, and then the Mexican manuscripts are divided into four groups. The third group includes both Mixtec history manuscripts and the ritual manuscripts. Following style the content of the manuscripts is summed up under rubrics: name of children, marriage, prophesy, meaning of dreams, medical lore and prognostication is a series of short paragraphs, based on Juan de Crodova’s Zapotec grammar of 1578. The next division is the section of plates. This consists of an introduction, descriptive text for each of the 67 plates, and the plates themselves. The plates consist of photographs and analytical line drawings of selected pages from the main manuscripts with a printed “translation” facing. This is an extremely valuable collection of data for those Mexicanists who may not have direct access to the facsimile publications of the various manuscripts. The last division of the book is entitled “Katalog” but consists of far more than this modest title implies, for it is a series of concordances – the cannon tables of the Borgia Group. The material is divided into categories of subject matter on the basis of the content of all of the manuscripts, and appropriate reference is made to each. Thus the content analyzed is larger than the content of any single manuscript, and the content of each manuscript is related to the cognate sections of all others. They are of special value to ethnohistorians dealing with Pre-Conquest religion and to archeologist when they must deal with the iconography of sculpture, frescoes and polychrome pottery using the deities and religious iconography in a symbolic or even only a decorative fashion. Nowotny clearly belongs in the tradition of Mexican studies initiated by Eduard Seler. without the publications of Seler – both facsimiles and commentaries on the various manuscripts – such a book as Tlacuilolli would have been almost impossible. A certain amount of correlating of the data was done by Seler himself, but only in Tlacuilo.

Compte rendu

  • Lehmann Henri, “Karl A. Nowoty, Tlacuilolli, Die Mexikanischen Bilderhandschriften. Stil und Inhalt”, L’Homme, 1964, tome 4, n°2, p. 132-133. Disponible en ligne, url : <>.
  • Glass, John B., “Tlacuilolli: Die mexikanischen Bilderhandschriften Stil und Inhalt mit einem Katalog der Codex-Borgia Gruppe. Karl A. Nowotny. Ibero-Amerikanische Bibliothek, Monumenta Americana, III. Berlin, Verlag Gebr. Mann, 1961. 286 pp., 67 pls., 10 figs. n.p.”, American Antiquity, 1964, vol. 29, n° 4, p. 525-526. DOI :

Informations pratiques

  • Éditeur : Berlin : Verlag Gebr. Mann
  • Date de parution : 1961
  • Description matérielle : 1 vol. (286, [1] p.) : ill., 67 pl., diagrs., tabl. ; 32 cm.
  • Collection : (Monumenta Americana ; 3).


  • AUBERVILLIERS-Campus Condorcet
  • PARIS-Médiathèque MQB

Citer ce billet
Olivier Jacquot (2020, 9 janvier). Parution : Tlacuilolli : Die mexikanischen Bilderhandschriften. Stil und Inhalt. Mit einem Katalog der Codex-Borgia-Gruppe. Amoxcalli. Consulté le 24 avril 2024, à l’adresse

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de collections : manuscrits des fonds américains, Service des manuscrits ORientaux (SOR), département des Manuscrits (MSS), Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

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