The Getty Digitizes a Rare 16th-Century Manuscript from Indigenous Mexico

In 1577, Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún finished a monumental encyclopedia of Mesoamerican culture. Working in collaboration with Nahua writers, artists, and elders, Sahagún documented life in the Aztec empire around the time of the Spanish conquest, together creating nearly 2,500 illustrations and 12 books recording the daily practices and culture of 16th-century Mexico. The text is widely regarded as one of the most important resources of Indigenous knowledge, especially considering most history is derived from colonial perspectives.

The Getty Research Institute recently released a digitized version of La Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España, which is best known as the Florentine Codex—this name comes from the text’s mysterious storage in the Medici family libraries for centuries. Although the Library of Congres and UNESCO’s Memory of the World have offered scanned iterations of the books since 2012 and 2015, respectively, this edition is the most widely accessible because of its searchable interface and additional context.

Featured image: “Metztli icualoca: lunar eclipse,” Book 7, Folio 7r, Artist N

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