Nahua and Mixtec Pictorial Books

Lori Boornazian Diel

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Nahua and Mixtec Pictorial Books

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  • History of Art



During the Late Postclassic period, Nahuas and Mixtecs kept pictorial books for multiple functions, with the two main genres being religion and history. The Spaniards must have understood the significance of these books for the native peoples because they had specifically targeted the royal archives and temples, burning the books that were housed inside. So successful were they that few pre-conquest manuscripts from western Mesoamerica survive. Those that do, along with many others that were created after the conquest, provide a wealth of information on indigenous religion and history, and they do so by using a pictorial system of writing, whose main strength was its interpretive openness.

Keywords: Late Postclassic period; Nahuas; Mixtecs; pictorial books; indigenous religion; history; writing system

Article.  3538 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region ; History of Art

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