Codex Telleriano-Remensis

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Ritual calendar page showing the feast period for the shown deity, possibly Tezcatlipoca, beginning on October 2nd, [iv] fol. 3v.


Tonalmatl page showing the 14th trecena period and showing the deity Quetzalcoatl, with accompanying gloss explaining his significance,[v] fol. 18r.

Organizationally, the Codex Telleriano Remensis is broken into three sections and represents a composite of different prehispanic forms.

The first section is a calendar, showing the twenty-day periods of the Aztec year and the deities which represent the feast for each period. The second section is a handbook tonalamatl, used during rituals and divinations, which depicts deities and forces that would influence divinations according to thirteen-day cycles.

These first two sections are unlike the Aubin in that they are not narrative in nature, but the final section of the Telleriano Remensis is more akin to the Aubin, containing a history that starts with the migration account in the late 12th century, moves on to a dynastic section of rulers of Tenochtitlan, and ends with the early decades of Spanish colonial presence, up to the year 1562 (while the Aubin continues up to 1607). Six annotators’ texts are seen alongside images, succeeding one another and changing or correcting the description of the images, once again showing the post-conquest importance of translating pictorial language to written text. 

The migration account in the Telleriano –Remensis is sparse and more complex structurally than the Aubin. The Aubin adheres to the year count, grouping year signs with occasional place signs and the Nahuatl gloss, and groups years according to stops along the migration, noting how many years the Mexica stayed in a particular place before moving on. Only towards the end of the Aubin’s migratory account are there accounts of battle. The Telleriano-Remensis, however, attempts to show a wider range of events along the migration, using images of migrants to attempt to show battles fought along the way, and showing the migration through footsteps without correlating years to specific places. [i]  


Mexica figure who has won in battle, shown through dismembered figures, shields, the place sign showing the location of the battle, and footprints to show movement, fol. 28v.


Figures shown to be related through use of footprints, fol. 30r.

The last folios depicting the migration continue to focus on warfare and figurative representations, seen in folio 28v where a Mexica figure stands surrounded by those he has killed and dismembered. While the pages that would presumably show the founding of Tenochtitlan are missing from the Telleriano-Remensis, the preceding pages emphasize the importance of Mexica figures themselves performing acts of war and migration, rather than symbolic depictions of events.

The dynastic section continues to rely heavily on figurative imagery, showing not only images of rulers, but also of marriages, offspring,  and diplomatic events.  The use of footprints is continuous to show relationships between the many figures depicted, such as on 30r .[ii]

The folios that would contain the initial Spanish conquest are also missing. However, the history continues well into Spanish presence,showing war and disease, and depicting the spanish, ending in the year 1562.

Here, European styles are integrated into the images, by sometimes placing footsteps within lines, seeming to show a European style road, or by attempting to show different visual perspectives, depicting some figures from a frontal rather than a profile view, as had been the prior norm. [iii]




[i] Eloise Quinones Keber, Codex Telleriano Remensis: Ritual, Divination, and History in a Pictorial Aztec Manuscript (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995),196.

[ii] Ibid, 212.

[iii] Ibid, 237.

[iv] Ibid, 145.

[v] Ibid, 181.