On pre-Hispanic Amerinds, 3

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Eduardo Matos Moctezuma is a prominent Mexican archaeologist that has directed excavations at the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. In his article “La Muerte del Hombre por el Hombre” in El Sacrificio Humano en la Tradición Religiosa Mesoamericana (pages 43-64), he includes fifteen illustrations of ancient codexes, of which I’ll reproduce only a couple of them.

After quoting the details of Maya human sacrifice recounted by Diego de Landa (1524-1579), a Spanish bishop of Yucatán, Matos Moctezuma writes (my translation) that “in some Mixtec codexes this practice is shown as in the Codex Borgia, where we have images of the extraction of the heart, and also in the Codex Laud:

Codex-Laud-1

A few pages later the archeologist describes another form of sacrifice that was popular in both Teotihuacan and in the Maya world, decapitation: “Also in various codexes we see images of decapitation, as in the Codex Vaticanus B, pre-Hispanic, in which page 24 a figure can be seen of a bat with outstretched arms holding in each of his hands a bloody human head. It corresponds to the eastern trecenas [13-day period used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican calendars] and reads like: ‘They are time of vampire Xolotl, the deadly lethal bat that cuts heads and takes off hearts’.”

Codex-Vaticanus-1

I don’t want to repeat what I already said about pre-Hispanic human sacrifice in The Return of Quetzalcoatl. I want to add something new. And since art is the royal road to enter the soul of a totally alien culture, I find it convenient to include these images of how the books authored by the representatives of the high culture in the Amerind world looked like before they were conquered by the white man.

Codex_Zouche-Nuttall_01

The above is a highly-pixelated image. Click on it to see the details (click again for even more detailed close-up). I may be no expert in deciphering such codexes but a central image on the left page looks like a grey-faced man holding a decapitated head with blood pouring under it.

Published in: on December 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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Translation of pages 483-541 of “Hojas susurrantes”

Note of September 2017: I have removed this text because a slightly revised version of it is now available in print within my book Day of Wrath.