Painted books using a pictographic writing system were produced extensively in ancient Mexico. Some were histories, others were religious or calendric. Highly skilled artist-scribes (tlacuiloque; singular tlacuilo) painted the leaves of these books. Even though only a few are extant, they give us a very good idea of how they were made, their materials, and their formats. It is well known that a large number of codices were destroyed by the Spaniards following the Spanish conquest of 1519–21. In the same sixteenth century, new books were painted by the educated Native elite presenting their history for various purposes and from various points of view. Those manuscripts have provided us with a record of the past, of the rulers and conquests, and of the nature of their identity. The kinds of stories they depict and how they...

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