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The Codex Borgia, folio 35
  • Jacob S. Neely, University of Kentucky

The Codex Borgia (ca. 1250) and The Borgia Group

The Codex Borgia is among the best-preserved pre-Hispanic codices. It contains a series of mythical narratives that detail the sequential yearly religious festivals.

The Borgia is the namesake for the Borgia Group, a corpus of codices similar in their origin, style, and content. They come from the Mixteca region of Mexico, which encompasses the states of Puebla, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. Principally, they serve as “divinatory manuals,” containing information about astronomy, astrology, and mythology. These overlap, with deities often representing celestial bodies. These texts are comparable, at least superficially, to astrological traditions in the West.

Recent scholarship suggests the Borgia itself has various scientific imports. For example, ethnoastronomer Susan Milbrath observes that the Borgia contains a unique depiction of Quetzalcoatl in his role as the “Evening Star” (Venus) seen nowhere else. On the page above in the upper-left quadrant (and again in the center-right position) (folio 35), you will notice that he has a “smoky eye,” theoretically representing a comet that would (a) be visible in Mexico that year and (b) indeed appear in the eastern sky adjacent to Venus.

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


Jansen, Maarten E.G.R.N. “La división mántica de las trecenas.” Mexicon, vol. 8, no. 5, 1986, pp. 102–107.

Milbrath, Susan. Heaven and Earth in Ancient Mexico: Astronomy and Seasonal Cycles in the Codex Borgia. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013, pp. 81.

Nicholson, H. B. "Borgia Group of Pictorial Manuscripts." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 13 Sep. 2018.

Valero de García Lascuráin, Ana Rita. Entre Códices. México: Universidad Anáhuac México Norte, 2012, pp. 45-47.

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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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Citation Information
Jacob S. Neely. "The Codex Borgia, folio 35" (2018)
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