From Flame to Flowers: Moths and Butterflies in the Codex Borgia Group

Author(s): Susan Milbrath

Year: 2017


Butterfly imagery in the Borgia Group shows how these volatiles were classified in Postclassic Central Mexico. They are grouped with birds among the 13 "lords of the day" in the Codex Borgia, and they sometimes seem to be interchangeable with moths, especially in imagery of the Fire God. Another god, Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, is associated with images of "army worms" devouring maize, symbolizing the caterpillar stage of a moth that distributes its eggs in the wind. Butterfly symbols are naturally linked with flowers that nourish butterflies. This is especially notable in representations of Xochiquetzal and Xochipilli, two deities who wear butterfly face paint and have names incorporating the word flower. Seasonal patterning is also evident in imagery of flowers and butterflies associated with the rainy season in a unique narrative section of the Codex Borgia.

Cite this Record

From Flame to Flowers: Moths and Butterflies in the Codex Borgia Group. Susan Milbrath. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429473)


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): 14816