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Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas

Print version ISSN 0185-1276


MAGALONI KERPEL, Diana. Imágenes de la conquista de México en los códices del siglo XVI: Una lectura de su contenido simbólico. An. Inst. Investig. Estét [online]. 2003, vol.25, n.82, pp.5-45. ISSN 0185-1276.

In this work I present and compare two different visual strategies in the sixteenth-century indigenous annals depicting the Conquest of Mexico. The first visual strategy corresponds to the tlacuilloli (the act of painting with a brush) tradition in which historic events are represented by pictograms linked to a year sign in the calendar. In this regard I analyze the paintings of Codex Aubin and Tira de Tepechpan. The second, which I have dubbed "the new tlacuiloque" (plural of tlacuilo, painter-scribe), shows a new visual and symbolic strategy that introduces the western painting style and Christian symbols into the images of the Conquest. In this manner, a new iconic script is created. This novel tradition is present in the painted history of the Conquest preserved in Book XII of the Florentine Codex and in the images of the Conquest made for Fray Diego Durán's History of the Indies of New Spain. However, both expressions share the same thematic or conceptual units and the way of conceiving of images as texts. The indigenous painters depiet the most important events of the Conquest through paintings that we call iconic. The Conquest is conceived as the moment of alternation of cycles of time (world eras). Through the paintings the tlacuiloque established a cyclical parallelism between the past Toltec era, the Mexica time, and the new Christian era in order to represent the arrival of the Spaniards as the foundation of a new era in Mesoamerica consistent with the indigenous cyclical history.

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