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The Codex Borbonicus, folio 13
  • Jacob S. Neely, University of Kentucky

About the above image: Notice the Spanish- and Nahuatl-language “glosses” throughout the document.

The Codex Borbonicus (ca. 1520)

The Codex Borbonicus, also known as the Hamy or the Paris Calendar, is one of only a few extant pictorial manuscripts directly attributed to the Aztec Empire.

What sets the Borbonicus apart from the other codices in this exhibit is the inclusion of the xiuhpohualli, a 365-day solar calendar, alongside the more-common tonalpohualli. The xiuhpohualli consists of eighteen twenty-day “months” and one five-day period at the end. The xihuitl, or year, takes its name from the first day of that last period.

The inclusion of both calendars is key to understanding the content of the Codex because the xiuhpohualli and the tonalpohualli only coincide once every 52 solar years. When this happens, it is the dawn of a new era or “New Fire.” The Borbonicus is a preparation for this milestone meant to usher-in the new era. If the ritual were to fail, it would foreshadow an era of chaos.

However, neither calendar is unique to the time nor location of the Aztecs. Rather, they are endemic of a larger Mesoamerican tradition that balances agricultural imperatives (the xiuhpohualli) and ritual ones (the tonalpohualli).

Which of the four categories of CONTINUITY apply to the Codex Borbonicus?


Keber, Eloise Quiñones. "Borbonicus, Codex." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 13 Sep. 2018.

Pool, Christopher and Barry Kidder. “Codex Borbonicus, p. 12.” A Glimpse into Ancient Mexico: Writings of the Aztecs, Mixtec, and Maya. Sep. 2013-Present. University of Kentucky Special Collections, Lexington, KY. 13 Sep. 2018.

Valero de García Lascuráin, Ana Rita. Entre Códices. México: Universidad Anáhuac México Norte, 2012, pp. 88-91.

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All scans courtesy of University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center and carried out by Jacob S. Neely.

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Jacob S. Neely. "The Codex Borbonicus, folio 13" (2018)
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