Aubin Codex

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An example of a page of the Aubin Codex. This is folio 59.[1]
Right side of folio 19[1]

The Aubin Codex is a textual and pictorial history of the Aztecs from their departure from Aztlán through the Spanish conquest to the early Spanish colonial period from 1519-1521, ending in 1607. Consisting of 81 leaves, it was most likely begun in 1576. The codex is written in Nahuatl, an Aztec language.[1]


The Aubin Codex was probably started in 1576 after the Spanish conquests.[1] It is possible that Fray Diego Durán supervised its preparation, since it was published in 1867 as Historia de las Indias de Nueva-España y isles de Tierra Firme, listing Durán as the author.[2]:569-570 Originally, the codex was owned by Lorenzo Boturini-Benaducci. The codex was named after J.M.A Aubin, who owned it in the mid-1800s. He published a lithographic reproduction in 1850. The last person to own the original was Jules Desportes. It now resides in the British Museum.[3]


The Aubin Codex depicts the history of the Mexican people, including the migratory histories, colonial events, and Aztec leaders.[1] The book includes planetary records as well as earthy ones. The book also depicts the smallpox epidemic after the arrivals of the conquistadors.[3] Among other topics, the Aubin Codex has a native description of the massacre at the temple in Tenochtitlan in 1520.[4]


With its 81 pages, the Codex Aubin is written in mixed format.[5]:210 The second half of the codex, depicting colonial history, is written in standard annals structure. The first part of the Codex Aubin, consisting of the migrations histories, is written in clustered annals structure.[5]:85 By clustering years in rows or columns, it freed up more space, allowing for more efficient writing. The years are written from left to right and top to bottom, and the year is written before the place.[5]:209 It is in European style on European paper, which suggests it was written after the Spanish conquests. Due to the different script throughout the book, it was likely written by more than one person over the years.The Codex Aubin is divided into three sections as well as an appendix that lists the succession of rulers and leaders, both Spanish and native. Every section begins with a full-page painting.[3] It is written in the Aztec language, Nahuatl.[6]

Close up of folio 26, you can see a bird eating a snake on top of a cactus.[1]


As of 2015, Fordham University has been hosting a project to translate the codex into English and further decipher its images and pictographs.[6] Also called "Manuscrito de 1576" (“The Manuscript of 1576”), this codex is held by the British Museum in London.[1] A copy of the original is held at the Princeton University library in the Robert Garrett Collection.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Image gallery: Codex Aubin / Códice Aubin 1576 / Códice de 1576 / Historia de la nación mexicana / Histoire mexicaine". British Museum. Retrieved 2018-02-01. 
  2. ^ -1588., Durán, Diego, (1994). The history of the Indies of New Spain. Heyden, Doris. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0806126493. OCLC 44954467. 
  3. ^ a b c "Nahuatl Spoken Here - Marriott Library - The University of Utah". Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  4. ^ "Conquest · Codex Aubin · Codex Aubin". Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  5. ^ a b c Boone, Elizabeth Hill (2000). Stories in Red and Black" Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-71989-7. 
  6. ^ a b "About · Codex Aubin". Retrieved 2018-02-01. 
  7. ^ "Princeton University Digital Library -- Item Overview". Retrieved 2018-02-02. 

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