Cosmogenesis in the Mixtec Codices: Visual Narratives of Place, Emergence, and Movement

Author(s): Bryan Schaeffer

Year: 2017


In the Postclassic Mixtec codices, the integral and integrative themes of place, emergence, and movement converge. Neglected in much of the scholarly literature on the sacred books of the Mixtec, the visual representation of supernatural and historical figures’ emergence and movement from place to place is an integral component of the codical narratives. Emergence and movement are tethered to and integrative with Mixtec portrayals of place, of various kingdoms through a standardized glyphic sign called a ‘toponym’. The significance of emergence and movement or travel underscores Mixtec conceptions of space and directionality, of certain human actions that mirror specific supernatural, generative actions. Such emergence and movement, as visualized in the codices, are tied to primordial cosmogenesis and to the origins of Mixtec ethnogeography.

In this presentation I will connect visual narratives from the Mixtec codices with archaeological and anthropological lines of inquiry in order to demonstrate how the Mixtec conceptualized, and therefore visualized, their autochthonous identity in the Mixteca, the region of myriad Postclassic kingdoms. I will also examine and question why place, emergence, and movement were aspects of cultural and historical significance for Mesoamericans in general and for the Mixtec gods and human rulers in particular.

Cite this Record

Cosmogenesis in the Mixtec Codices: Visual Narratives of Place, Emergence, and Movement. Bryan Schaeffer. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428863)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15530