“Códice Maya de México promises ‘understanding’ in its title and delivers to the highest degree, with all the lucidity and scholarship to be expected from the Getty Research Institute. After decades of see-sawing disputes—some favoring the authenticity of this document, others not— Andrew Turner and his colleagues have landed at where we should have been at the start, when the book first came to our attention in the 1960s. Arising in a time of cultural interplay, Códice Maya de México shows itself to be the earliest, largely complete tome from Indigenous America. Looking to the heavens, and to Venus in particular, this screenfold (or leporello) indicates how predictable planetary movements were linked in Maya minds to cyclic conflicts between gods. And it does so by muting language and highlighting lists of days unencumbered by more elaborate text. Códice Maya thus served as a supple hybrid. Crosscutting societies, it ‘lived’ between different languages and rituals yet still retained its Maya identity. Códice Maya, a special treasure of the Estados Unidos Mexicanos, has now fulfilled its own manifest destiny by traveling to Los Angeles, a city founded by the precursor of the Mexican republic and a global example today of the benefits of cultural contact. This study and the welcome visit of the codex to the J. Paul Getty Museum provide unrivaled pleasures to all who care about the power of books and what happens when societies collide, mesh, and—as a direct result—strengthen.”
—Stephen Houston, editor of A Maya Universe In Stone
“These interconnected essays explore astronomical knowledge, bookmaking practices, artistic and scribal conventions, and belief systems at a significant juncture in Mesoamerican history through analysis of the recently authenticated Códice Maya de México. What I found especially compelling were the complementary methodologies and perspectives employed to contextualize this early codex, framing it not only within the cultural context of its eleventh- or twelfth-century creators but also in terms of its significance to contemporary descendant populations working to reclaim their intellectual heritage.”
—Gabrielle Vail, Research Collaborator, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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