Painted Traditions: Negotiating Native Colonial Identities

Colonial Counterpoint: New World Texts as Sites of Encounter, 1492-1800

Council scene from the Codex Tulane

Featured here are original Mesoamerican painted manuscripts housed in Tulane’s Latin American Library selected to attest to the persistence of native writing conventions and the ways in which they were deployed in the early decades under Spanish rule.

It also features the original Codex Tulane or Códice de Huamelulpan. This mid-16th century painted manuscript uses Mixtec, Aztec, and European pictorial conventions to establish territorial rights for colonial authorities.  Later annotations in alphabetized Mixtec prose reveal evolving uses of the document in a changing socio-economic and legal environment.

The Map of Cuauhtlantzinco or Códice Campos (19th c. copy; 16th c. original), narrates the sequence of events by which town leaders aligned with Hernan Cortés and his army against the Aztecs, their arch enemies, on their way towards the conquest of Tenochtitlán (1519-1521).  Although a story of collusion with Spanish forces, this latter-day codex bears witness to the continued adaptation of native conventions to produce authoritative documents of Amerindian identity.