The Codex Mendoza: new insights


Jorge Gómez Tejada, Universidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ; Davide Dominici, Università di Bologna; B. C. Barker-Benfield, Oxford University; Diana Magaloni, Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; Mary Ellen Miller, Yale University; Claudia Brittenham, University of Chicago; Frances F. Berdan, California State University; Barbara E. Mundy, Fordham University; Daniela Bleichmar, University of Southern California; Todd P. Olson, University of California, Berkeley; Carmen Fernández-Salvador, Universidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ; Joanne Harwood, Independent researcher; Lucien Sun, University of Chicago

Palabras clave:

History of art, Art history, Codex Mendoza, Mesoamerica, reception, don Antonio de Mendoza, Francisco Clavijero, James Cooper Clark, Samuel Purchas, Tenocha nobility, Tenochtitlan, Nahua, Codex Selden, Mexico, Spain, Bodleian Library, France, England, Viceroy of New Spain


Conceived as a contribution to the continuous construction of the identity of the Codex Mendoza, the present volume is organized around three axes: material analysis, textual and stylistic interpretation, and reception and circulation studies. The works of Barker-Benfield and MOLAB further our objective of understanding the manuscript's materiality. The re-binding and conservation process registered by Barker-Benfield has allowed us to do away with speculation regarding the method of production used to create the manuscript and its previous bindings. This, in turn, has allowed heretofore accepted connections, such as the authorship of Francisco Gualpuyogualcal, to be reexamined. Similarly, the analysis undertaken by the MOLAB team and headed by Davide Domenici has settled the debate on the nature of the pigments used in the production of the manuscript. This has added additional layers of nuance to previously held interpretative hypotheses on the meaning of specific pigments and the strictness of their application in the tlacuilolli. While color holds meaning for the tlacuilo, color is not inexorably linked to its materiality. These observations have the potential to inspire a new generation of interpretative studies, based on ever more accurate data regarding the material nature of the Codex Mendoza.      

Interpretative studies of the manuscript in this volume represent a line of inquiry that, by considering the manuscript from the complex perspectives of the work of art, literature, and bibliography, complement previous anthropological and historical readings of the Codex Mendoza. My essays as well as those by Diana Magaloni and Daniela Bleichmar reconsider the number and style of the artists who produced the manuscript in order to understand both the process by which it was created as well as the place it occupies in the artistic context of the early viceroyalty. Far from entering a binary relation between subjugator and subjugated, the decisions made by these artists and intellectuals manifest the forms of thinking and seeing time and space in the Mesoamerican world. I demonstrate that the pictures in the Codex Mendoza were painted in a workshop in which one, two, or more individuals collaborated on each page to create a single composition; as such, the creation of these pictures took on an air of rituality and functioned as "an instrument to recreate, reactualize, and make coherent the historical becoming linked to territory with cosmic patterns" (Magaloni, this volume). This last observation complements and reinforces Joanne Harwood's proposed reading of the third section of the manuscript. For Harwood, notwithstanding the originality of the visual solutions used to compose this section of the manuscript, the Codex Mendoza's pre-Columbian model resonates with a Mesoamerican religious genre: the teoamoxtli.  


  • The History of the Codex Mendoza
    Jorge Gómez Tejada
  • The Painting Materials of Codex Mendoza
    Davide Dominici
  • Report on Repairs of 1985-6, Watermarks, and Collation of Codex Mendoza (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1)
    B. C. Barker-Benfield
  • The Concept of Style for the Nahua Painters of New Spain
    Diana Magaloni
  • The Makers of the Codex Mendoza
    Jorge Gómez Tejada
  • The Whiteness of their Clothes
    Mary Ellen Miller
  • The Representation of Taxation in the Codex Mendoza
    Claudia Brittenham
  • Aztec Glyphic Writing in the Codex Mendoza and Other Pictorials: Some New Thoughts
    Frances F. Berdan
  • The Codex Mendoza and the City of Mexico-Tenochtitlan
    Barbara E. Mundy
  • The Legible Image: Painting in Translation
    Daniela Bleichmar
  • Abduction: The Reception and Reproduction of the Codex Mendoza in France and England (1553-1696)
    Todd P. Olson
  • Learning to Look: Pictures, Sacred Oratory and Memory in Guaman Poma de Ayala’s Conzederaciones
    Carmen Fernández-Salvador
  • The Ancient Rule for Living in the Codex Mendoza: Part 3 as a Transformed Tonalamatl
    Joanne Harwood
  • Arranging the Conquests: Section I of the Codex Mendoza
    Lucien Sun

Biografía del autor/a

Jorge Gómez Tejada, Universidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ

Jorge Gómez Tejada, editor y autor del libro El Códice mendocino: nuevas perspectivas, es doctor en Historia del Arte, Universidad de Yale, New Haven, Connecticut; M.Phil. en Historia del Arte, Universidad de Yale, New Haven, Connecticut y M.A.R. Historia del Arte y la Música Sagrada, Universidad de Yale, New Haven, Connecticut.

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January 27, 2022 — Actualizado el February 21, 2022



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