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INAH specialist identifies important corpus of codices made more than 450 years ago
The codices were divided in 1911 when the engineer Juan Reina, owner of the place, sold 135 fragments for 2,000 dollars to the Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo: Miguel Angel Saloma Robles. American Museum of Natural History, N.Y.

MEXICO CITY.- An important corpus of codices made more than 450 years ago, which make reference to tributes in Valle de Tlaquiltenango, known today as Morelos, were completely identified by the specialist Laura Hinojosa from the National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH).

The expert of the INAH Center in Morelos added that the codices, made between 1525 and 1569, are of great importance since there are only two others: Moctezuma’s codex and the Marquis del Valle’s codex. Also, the ones made in Tlaquiltenago were glued onto the cloister frieze underneath the convent, something rather atypical.

“This situation possibly emanated from the fact that Franciscan friars, living during this epoch, wanted to protect the native legacy, or their need to hide it because these documents manifested that those in charge of the convent were also beneficiaries of the nearby villages’ offerings”, she indicated.

The codices were divided in 1911 when the engineer Juan Reina, owner of the place, sold 135 fragments for 2,000 dollars to the Museum of Natural History in New York.
These documents were elaborated by natives, and show the bestowed tributes. “We found annotations describing the offerings paid to the representatives of the temple, the Marquis del Valle or the encomenderos (grantees of the encomienda)”.

Laura Hinojosa explained that Codex 1 was formed by four genealogies. “The shape and composition in which the figures were made have a pre-Hispanic character: the bodies’ profiles are presented looking towards the left and they all have the same features”.

Also, codices 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14 and 15 are tributes and contain pictograms where characters, tributes, calendar symbols, and toponymic and anthroponymic symbols are observed.

The codices of tributes with pictograms and writing in nahuatl and Spanish are numbers 5, 6, 9 and 10. Codex number 12 is considered to refer to a census and tributes that were paid in exchange of services, with pictograms and some fragments with nahuatl writing.

Another tribute was the mantles. Tlaquiltenango was an economically important zone during the pre-Hispanic period and possibly retained its importance during the Colonial era because of the high production of cotton and other agricultural goods.
“The mantles are represented in Codex 8 and there are four different types. The smooth ones called quachtliy were used as currency, being blue or white”, said the specialist.

In Codice 9 there are annotations in nahuatl which revealed that the turkeys were given by the main representatives of the villages to those in charge of the temple. However, another fragment has the written letter “marquis” and the name Juan, which is why it’s possible that these birds were also given to the Marquis del Valle.

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