Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Codex Borbonicus... A Sacred Almanac

So a Sacred Almanac of the Aztecs arrived the other day... This one in fact  

and it didn't even have to leave New York to do it.Thank you Hofstra for stepping up!

The book itself was limited to 600 copies and has some noticeable differences from the Tonomatl Aubin in style and content.

Compare the Aubin Quetzalcoatl sacrifice here in lithograph...


 

And here again in photograph...





To the Borbonicus scene - depicting the same principal actors...



Here we see the gods have switched places, with Quetzalcoatl on the right and Tepeyollotl on the left. The text goes on to say that symbol between them is the sign for war (the shield and darts) and that Tepeyolltol has a spider at his feet and is dressed in a jaguar skin (instead of being an actual jaguar). Q.'s left hand still holds the sign for excrement, and there is a basket between them which is supported by skulls and contains hearts...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Tonalamatl Aubin, Quetzcoatl, Tepeyollotli, and Drew University

My copy of the Tonalamatl Aubin came in a few weeks ago and I've been spending some time assimilating the images and doing some value-adding...

The library that graciously made it happen was the Drew University Library, in Madison New Jersey.

The book itself was originally published in German by Eduard Seler and is available in PDF format from the FAMSI website here.

Embarassingly, after having spent lots of time finegalling this giantly oversized book to get decent photocopies of the outline explanations - I found that they've all been scanned and look incredible - right here. Albeit in German...

Here's the original plate showing Quetzalcoatl holding a sacrificial victim in one hand and what, accoring to the translation, appears to be a turd or the symbol for "sin" in the other hand. The symbol is given as cuitlatl - excrement, sign of sin.




And finally, here's my version of the line drawings, using Photoshop's filtering effect "Glowing Edges" to give it a LightBrite look, and then Inversing the result to get a nice outline effect.



The book I received gave the explanations for all the regalia and parephenalia depicted in the insets, which I'll transcribe here...

Chief Person: Tepeyollotli - the voice of the mountain

Facing Him: teccizti – sea snail shell

Accompanying Person: Quetzalcouatl, - the Wind God

On His Breast: eca-ilacatz-coatl – the spirally twisted ornament of the Wind God

In His Hand: cuitlatl - excrement – sign of sin

Symbol: atl-tlachinolli – spear throwing (water) and conflagration, symbolic indication of war

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

METRO, CUNY's Graduate Center, and a Doctoral Thesis walk into a bar...

So I decided to throw the interlibrary loan department a curve ball by requesting a doctoral thesis instead of just an ordinary book.

Heres the title I was interested in...

Portraying the Mexica past : a comparison of sixteenth-century pictorial accounts of origin in Codex Azcatitlan, Codex Boturini, and Codex Aubin

Our ILL department tried to get it for me - but they said that the Graduate Center's copy was a reference-only. They suggested i tried to get access to the material by requesting a yellow temporary access card from METRO the Metropolitan New York Library Council. Technically its a referral card - which can be accessed from their website here.

So I emailed delivery@metro.org to obtain a card - and never heard back from them. So i called the number (212) 228-2320 x 14 to order - and talked to 3 different people, the last of whom told me to call NYPL to obtain a card.

Considering I'm calling from Queens Library - this was a little insensitive - but I called him back and he gave me the number for the Queens office. Turns out the number if from my own Central Library's Interlibrary Loan Department!

Having come full circle, I requested a few cards, and got them in the next day's mail. Yellow referral card in hand - im off to CUNY's Graduate Center to look at this thesis! Keeping you posted!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The British Museum, Princeton University, and Fair Use

So after tracking down the digitized version of the Codex Aubin at the British Museum - I decided to petition the institution for a higher resolution scan than the one provided for viewing on the website (to see the difference in quality).


As a quick comparison - the image on the website is 750x452 pixels with a screen resolution of 72dpi.

The scan I received from them, after assuring them I would not become rich using their images, was 2500x1775 pixels with a resolution of 300dpi. Here's the copyrighted file the British Museum sent me.



Pretty impressive and actually adequate for a careful visual inspection and printing reproduction.

Also - checked up on Princeton's copy - which is a watercolor reproduction of the original. Here's a bit from their website...

"The Princeton copy may have been made from the original and contains a page-by-page copy of the drawings in color; the transcript of the Nahuatl text, however, is not exact in regard to the page layout... Rémi Siméon (b. 1827) described a copy of the "Codex Aubin" with 79 leaves or 158 pages owned by an Italian named Chialiva. He has also noted that it has an unnumbered leaf between fols. 32 and 33. This copy was probably owned by Chialiva, as it has Italian glosses and an unnumbered leaf following fol. 32.

Sold in a Sotheby and Co. auction catalog of Nov. 9-10, 1936, as lot no. 240. It was purchased by Garrett through or from the London firm of Bernard Quaritch. Inside the outer wrapper is the inscription "R. G. Nov. 1936," which is Robert Garrett's ownership and accession mark. Garrett deposited this manuscript at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1942 at which time he described them briefly in the "Garrett Collection List No. 3." Garrett donated the item along with several other manuscripts to the Princeton University Library in 1949. "

Here's an image they make available on their website... as a side note - their reproduction and permissions page is completely terrifying.


and the corresponding low res version from the British Museum...


As for Princeton's reproduction policy - it basically looks like they waive fees (sometimes) but you have to pay up front and then have the fee refunded back to you? Not sure - here's the section...

"Reproduction fees are routinely waived for the Princeton University community, including current faculty, staff, and students; as well as the Princeton University Press, Art Museum, Index of Christian Art, and other university offices or publications. Fees are also waived for black-and-white reproduction of a few images of textual or visual materials on inside pages of a scholarly journal (either printed or electronic), in an academic monograph published in a press run of fewer than 750 copies, or in a scholarly micro-form or electronic edition. Reproduction fees in these specific cases will be waived for everyone, whether or not a member of the Princeton University Community. However, even when fees are waived, existing photoduplication charges must be paid in advance, and permission to reproduce images must be requested in writing in order to guarantee that citations are accurate. "

Monday, April 18, 2011

Survey of Mesoamerican Codices

Preconquest Pictorial Manuscripts

Cental Mexico
Tonalamatl Aubin
Codex Borbonicus

Borgia Group
Codex Borgia
Codex Cospi
Codex Fejervary-Mayer
Codex Laud
Codex Vaticanus B

Western Oaxaca
Aubin Manuscript no. 20
Codex Becker no. 1
Codex Bodley
Codex Colombino
Codex Nuttall
Codex Vienna

Maya Region
Codex Dresden
Codex Madrid
a. Coretesiano
b. Troano
Codex Paris

Pictorial Manuscripts Produced under Spanish Patronage

Cronica X Group
Duran: Historia de las Indias
Tovar: Codice Ramirez
Tovar: Historia de la Benida
Sahagun: Primeros Memoriales
Sahagun: Florentine Codex

Huitzilopochtli Group
Codex Rios
Codex Telleriano-Remensis

Magliabecchiano Group
Codex Ixtlilxochitl, pt. 1
Codex Magliabecchianno
Codice del Museo de America

Ceremonies of the 18 months
Kalendario Mexicano
The Tovar Calendar

Tribute of the Triple Alliance
Codex Mendoza pt. 2
Matricula de Tributos

Calendar Wheels
Sahagun Calendar Wheel
Veytia Calendar Wheel no. 2

Miscellaneous
Cruz: Libellus de Medicinalibus
Codex Ixtlilcochitl pt. 2
Codex Mendoza pt 1, 3
Relacion de Michoacan
Santa Cruz Map of the City and Valley of Mexico

Native Colonial Pictorial Manuscripts

Valley of Mexico
Codex Aubin
Codex Azacatitlan
Boban Calendar Wheel
Codice Boturini
Codice en Cruz
Plano en Papel de Maguey
Codex Mexicanus
Mapa Quinatzin Mapa Siguenza
Tira de Tepechpan
Mapa Tlotzin
Codice Xolotl

Central Mexico
Codices de Azoyu no. 1, 2
Mapas de Cuauhtinchan no. 1-3
Codice de Huamantla
Codice de Huichapan
Humboldt Fragment no. 1
Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca
Anales de Tula

Northen and Western Oaxaca
Lienzo Antonio de Leon
Codex Becker no. 2
Lienzo de Coixtlahuaca no. 1,2
Codice de Fernandez Leal
Lienzo de Santiago Ihuitlan
Lienzo de Santa Maria Nativitas
Codice Porfirio Diaz
Codex Selden
Selden Roll
Lienzo de Zapatepec no. 1

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Codex Aubin

So my copy of the Codex Aubin came in through the inter-library loan system - thumbs up Queens Library!

Here are some of the technical details. First the actual book...

Codex Aubin. Historia de la nación mexicana. Reproducción a todo color del Códice de 1576. Madrid: J. Porrua Turanzas, 1963. Commentary in Spanish by Charles Dibble. SPE F 1219 C6368.

My copy came from Syracuse University... Thanks guys, you rock! Wikipedia almost gets it right... A Codex consisting of eighty-one leaves of European paper bound in red leather and guarded out. A pictorial Nahuatl chronicle covering the years 1168-1608 and 1595-96, with an addition for 1597-1607. Begins with the departure from Aztlan and includes the dynastic history of Tenochtitlan and colonial events.

It was most likely begun in 1576 and it is possible that Fray Diego Durán supervised its preparation, since it was published in 1867 as "Historia de las Indias de Nueva-España y isles de Tierra Firme", listing Durán as the author.

Among other topics, the Aubin Codex has a native description of the massacre at the temple in Tenochtitlan in 1520. Also called "Manuscrito de 1576" (“The Manuscript of 1576”), this codex is held by the British Museum in London. A copy of the original is held at the Princeton University library in the Robert Garrett Collection there. The fully digitized version is available at the British Museum’s website - the downloadable images are 72dpi with a pretty decent size of 750x447 pixels

But don't try to just search Codex Aubin from their home page because you get no results... curious.

Here are 2 images which give you a sense of the limitations of reproduction. First, a scanned image from the book I received, a hand-colored lithograph by Charles E Dibble made from the original.



And then a photograph of the original provided by the British Museum.



So where did Wikipedia get it wrong? Their description above notes 81 leaves (with the temple image scans being found on plate 81) - but the book I received goes on for an additional 77 pages and includes a year by year pictorial history, beginning in 1521 and ending in 1607.

The British Museum's website does not include all of these additional plates either, but rather ends on plate 89 with the years 1526 - 1535. Heres the last plate they make available Plate 88 - 89 (1526 - 1535).

As a closing note, I also read in the Handbook of the Middle American Indians vol. 14 that the Dibble reproductions I obtained are not without errors, and shouldn't be used for scholarly research, as they are inadequate.

They instead suggest the photographs made by William E. Gates which are available at... find out next post!

Friday, February 25, 2011

kindle editions of the codices... i wonder...

I was planning on covering each codex with a post of its own... with links to WorldCat records and some background info for each, when i came across Amazon's kindle editions of 10 codices in digital format.


Codex Tonalamatl Aubin


And then i did a little more digging and found the books on smashwords too... And then found it's the same guy - jason merkoski, from oscura press... He claims he's a technology evangelist, for Amazon... whats a TE anyway?


So I bought it - because the price was right and you can open Kindle books on your PC now... and then I started thinking the images looked familiar....

So i did a little more digging - and it turns out this merkoski guy had downloaded all the images for these books from a free web source, FAMSI the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, packaged them into a kindle edition, and is now selling it for .99 cents a pop and up. I guess its the american way - but is it the the native american way?



Here's the link to the Codex Tonalamatl Aubin on FAMSI - oh and the resolution is better than the kindle edition, as well.


but what about fair use and value adding - you may say? well, heres an excerpt from the "value" he's added to the hard work FAMSI did in digitizing these masterpieces and making them available to researchers.


"Any of these symbols on any of the codex pages could earn you a great tattoo – and it’s somehow a surprise that lines so bold never graved a person’s skin. And I hope that hipsters of a more feral age will start inking themselves with these living patterns. Because they are alive. They beat with blood, life, something all too familiar, and something so strangerous that you’ll never understand it."


tattooed feral hipsters? strangerous indeed!