John Pohl, THE CODICES John Pohl's

ANCIENT BOOKS: Mixtec Group Codices

The People

The Mixtec Group codices portray the histories of divine gods and heroes together with over twenty-five generations of kings and queens who claimed to be descended from them. Despite the fact that hieroglyphic writing systems rooted in Maya, Zapotec, Mixe-Zoque, and other languages had been employed in Mesoamerica in earlier times, the Mixtecs as well as the Aztecs prefered to use pictographs, representational signs that could be understood at some basic level no matter what language the reader actually spoke. Some scholars even compare them to cartoons.

Representations of people in the codices are placed in stereotyped poses that are meant to illustrate different activities. The meanings of many poses are obvious: "hostility" is expressed by warriors menacing their opponents with spears. Captives are either shown being grasped by the hair or carrying small flags in their hands indicating that they are to be sacrificed. Marriage couples face one another while seated on woven mats or jaguar skin thrones. Children are often depicted as full grown individuals, although sometimes a small umbilical cord is attached to their bottom. The dead are shown seated in an inactive state with their eyes closed.

Most people in the codices can be identified by both their calendrical names and their ritual dress. Eight Deer for example is almost always seen wearing his jaguar helmet. We also find that ritual dress serves to qualify the nature of social or political activities in which individuals participate such as war, marriage, death, and so forth as well as to relate groups of people to each other who form some special bond between themselves. Priests for example often wear black and white tunics.

Image - Council of Four Priests
Council of Four Priests

Click on images for more detail.

Image - Lord Eight Wind Marries Lady Ten Deer
Lord Eight Wind Marries Lady Ten Deer
Image - Lord Eight Deer Captures Lord Four Wind
Lord Eight Deer Captures Lord Four Wind
Image - Lady Four Death Gives Birth
Lady Four Death Gives Birth
Image - Mummy Bundle of Lord Twelve Lizard
Mummy Bundle of Lord Twelve Lizard
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