Relive Battle between Aztec King and the Spanish Conquistadors

Detail of Martin de la Cruz Badiano codex (1552)
Detail of Martin de la Cruz Badiano codex (1552) on display at the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology's "Codices of Mexico, memories and knowledge". Photo: AFP/ Omar Torres

The Mexican National Museum of Anthropology is presenting a large exhibition of 44 codices for its show, “Codices of Mexico: Memories and Wisdom”, presenting artifacts from a fascinating time in Mesoamerican history.

The show, which runs until January, features artifacts from several Mesoamerican cultures including the Mayas, Purepechas and Zapotecos.

“It’s the biggest codex exhibit (in Mexico),” said curator Baltazar Brito, director of the National Anthropology and History Library, as reported by the AFP.

The codices, or codex (singular) present illuminated manuscripts describing the region’s history and culture through the eyes of a 15th century tlaculios (a codex painter or scribe), detailing food recipes, herbs, lineages, and even events such as battles between the Aztec king, Moctezuma II and the Spanish conquistadors.

“This codex shows us how he was captured by a Spaniard and then he is seen dead, bloodied with a sword,” Brito said. “This is another version of history that has a lot of value because the codices were considered works done by the people, for the people.”

This particular codex, called the Moctezuma codex, is six feet long and ten inches wide, and is made of the bark of a fig tree; this is just one example of the dimensions and type of material used to create such a work.

The Mexico Museum of Anthropology holds about one-third of the 650 known Mexican codices in various museums around the world.

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