Thèse : The illustrations and texts of the Tonalamatl of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis


  • Quiñones Keber, Eloise


Ever since its re-discovery by Alexader von Humboldt in the early nineteenth century, the Codex Telleriano-Remensis has been recognized as a key document in Mesoamerican studies. Now in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, this illustrated Aztec manuscript was compiled under Spanish patronage in Central Mexico during the early Colonial period (c. 1550) from now-lost indigenous prototypes. It comprises three distinct sections: feasts of the yearly cycle of native “months,” a divinatory and ritual calendar (tonalamatl), and a historical chronicle. In view of the fact that no indisputably pre-Hispanic, pictorial Aztec manuscripts from the Valley of Mexico have survived the Spanish Conquest (1519-1521) or its aftermath, the few Colonial copies extant are rare and valuable records of Aztec culture. The native-style images of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, accompanied by explanatory annotations in Spanish, in particular constitute a significant source in the recovery and interpretation of Aztec art, religion, calendrics, and history.This study first examines the Codex Telleriano-Remensis as a whole to resolve fundamental questions concerning its physical features, provenience, dating, authorship, possible prototypes, and relationship to the partially cognate Codex Vaticanus A, now in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. It then focuses on the richly illustrated tonalamatl, the divinatory almanac that guided human affairs at every level of Aztec society. An analysis of the illustrations of the predominant deity patrons of the tonalamatl sections (trecenas) defines their stylistic and iconographic features. Comparison with corresponding images in other pictorial Mexican manuscripts, pre-Hispanic (non-Aztec) as well as post-Conquest, discloses shared characteristics and isolates unique or acculturated traits. A scrutiny of the annotations identifies the hands of the various commentators, distinguishes their Christian interpretations from expressions of indigenous belief, and assesses their relevance to the illustrations. Comparison with the related texts of the Codex Vaticanus A and with other ethnohistorical sources clarifies the function of the tonalamatl and the place of divination within the Aztec religious system.

Informations pratiques

  • Columbia University, 1984, 1 vol. (542 p.).
  • Ph. D.

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Olivier Jacquot (28 janvier 2020). Thèse : The illustrations and texts of the Tonalamatl of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis. Amoxcalli. Consulté le 21 juillet 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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