Representations of the Devil and the Demonic in Sixteenth-Century Mexico

Author(s): Angela Rajagopalan

Year: 2016


As the influence of the Spanish Inquisition increased in the decades following the Spanish conquest of Mexico, it became increasingly common for indigenous artist-scribes, or tlacuiloque, to substitute pictographic images of pre-Hispanic deities with iconography related to the Christian devil. Drawing on examples from Mesoamerican painted manuscripts and murals produced in the sixteenth-century, this paper explores the nature of those representations. Distinctions occur between representations of pre-Hispanic deities (often depicted in the form of a classically-inspired Renaissance devil) and representations of priests or other individuals associated in the Spanish Catholic world with the demonic (often depicted in other forms but using attributes associated with the devil, such as dark pigment or clawed appendages). While the use of surrogate devil imagery asserted a Christian perspective when dealing with subject matter related to pre-Hispanic history and religion, it was not always effective in avoiding censorship.

Cite this Record

Representations of the Devil and the Demonic in Sixteenth-Century Mexico. Angela Rajagopalan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404288)


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min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;