Mexican Codex Map, 16th century AD
Paint and ink on paper
50 (height) x 77 (width) cm


Mexican Codex Map, also known as Mapa de Santa Barbara Tamasolco or Pintura de propriedades de descendientes de los Señores Tlaxcala, is an ancient manuscript painted on native bark paper called amatl. Created around 50 years after the Spanish conquistadors vanquished the Aztec Empire, the codex elucidates the topographical features and landmarks of two distinct towns in the Tlaxcala region, whose people were called Nahuas. Probably serving as a land claim, the Map provides vital information about each town: buildings, plans, roads, waterways, and vegetation. Also visible are two newly constructed churches, Santa Barbara (on the left) and Santa Ana (on the right), as well as trees and symbols. The Map is annotated in Nahuatl, the native language of the Nahuas. A scribe named Mateo Quauhtli, the conquistador Diego Muñoz, and the first Spanish Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza are explicitly mentioned. Because the leader of the indigenous populous forged an alliance with Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés, the Nahuas were able to maintain a degree of solidarity while integrating the new European rule. In fact, the town’s principal landowners are recorded near their designated property plots, revealing that many upper class Nahuas intermarried with new Spanish settlers.


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