Florentine Codex and Color Swatches
Wed, 12/01/2021 – 17:28
Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún, Antonio Valeriano, Alonso Vegerano, Martín Jacovita, Pedro de San Buenaventura, and twenty-two anonymous Nahua artists or tlacuiloque
Historia de las cosas de Nueva España or Florentine Codex, c. 1575–77 (1979 copy)
Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles
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Florentine Codex Color Research Swatches, 2006
Natural pigments on paper
Courtesy of Diana Magaloni
Historia de las cosas de Nueva España (History of the Things of New Spain), or the Florentine Codex, is a bilingual illustrated encyclopedia that documents Mexica culture and history. The twelve books, bound in three volumes, were produced by a group of Nahua scholars under the auspices of Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún. As an epidemic in 1576 devastated Indigenous communities in Central Mexico, killing four out of every five souls, these scholars risked their lives and persecution by the Inquisition to complete this monumental work. The artists among them created colors from pigments imbued with divine energies—flowers and insects imparted the masculine solar force and earthly minerals the feminine lunar force—to give life to their histories. These color swatches reproduce those colorants.