Animal Imagery in the Postclassic Yearbearer Pages of the Codex Borgia

Author(s): Susan Milbrath

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Animal Symbolism in Postclassic Mesoamerica: Papers in Honor of Cecelia Klein" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Animals are prominent in annual rituals performed at the end of the year, as seen on page 49-52 of the Codex Borgia. Animals attacking each other and scenes of struggle involving animals and anthropomorphic gods are related to sequences in the yearbearer cycle that define the Calendar Round. Yearbearer ceremonies are featured in these directional almanacs form a cosmogram of time and space. Four birds perched on trees represent the four cardinal direction associated with four yearbearers that form a sequence of 52 years. Another set of trees shows scenes of sacrifice involving animals, but in the last yearbearer page human sacrifice is featured instead, an interesting variation that relates to ethnohistorical accounts. Other manuscripts in the Borgia Group show interesting parallels, including birds and directional trees associated with four different sets of yearbearers, and scenes of conflict between animals and deities. This patterning suggests that animals played an important role in yearbearer ceremonies performed at yearend, a liminal time of transition in the festival calendar of central Mexico.

Cite this Record

Animal Imagery in the Postclassic Yearbearer Pages of the Codex Borgia. Susan Milbrath. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451663)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 18.48 ; max long: -94.087; max lat: 23.161 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23168