Friday, July 13, 2012

The Paris Codex

Once part of Paris's the Bibliothèque Impériale and now a part of the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Paris Codex --  also known as the Codex Pérez and Codez Peresianus -- is one of the four known surviving Maya codices. Drawn and mentioned by various people it wasn't commonly known of for a while.
At some point after contact between the Spanish invaders and the Maya was established, the Paris Codex mysteriously ended up in Europe. In 1832 the Bibliothèque Impériale's bought the codex and this is where it remained for some time.
It was drawn about three years later by Augistine Aglio, and Aglio's work was put in Vol. 10 of Kingsborough Antiquities of Mexico. This volume wasn't published as Kingsborough died.
1849 saw a man named Joseph M.A. Aubin publish a reference to this codex. Six years later or so, a man named José F. Ramírez came into contact with the Kingsborough publication and saw the illustrations of the codex. After that he made the observation that the Paris Codex and the Dresden Codex shared features, but no one knew of his observation for nearly 100 years.
About four years later a man named José Pérez published two descriptions of the Paris Codex, and one of them had an illustration. That same year the Paris Codex was officially rediscovered by a man named León de Rosny. He found it in a chimney corner that had a basket of papers. During the 1860s brought public attention to it.
Physical Features
The Paris Codex has twenty-two pages: its eleven physical pages are painted on both sides. It understood to have been part of a larger codex. It is very damaged, as a sizeable amount of its plaster coating (on which the glyphs were drawn) having crumbled away.
In the first half of the Paris Codex, a series k'atuns is written down along with the rituals and ceremonies that must be done on them. Two pages -- page 19 and page 20 -- talk about year bearers, days that would land on the first day of Pop. The Paris Codex also talks about how k'u (god C) influences things. Other pages talk about the spiritual forces in the ancient Maya religion such as the Pauahtuns and the death gods. Still others talk about the weather. Beyond this, the codex has a zodiac that has 13 animal signs (they represent constellations the ancient Maya saw in the night sky.)
In 1933 a man named Theodore A. Willard took pictures of the Paris Codex. These images from these pictures can be found at Northwestern University's digital library here.

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