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Hanged black person in 1537 Mexico, Codex Telleriano-Remensis

Could this be the very first image of Africans in the Americas?

This sad image, from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis (fol. 45r), depicts the hanging, in Mexico City (1537), of a black male from a scaffold. In the accompanying gloss the scribe reports the rebellion of blacks and the subsequent hanging of its leaders. According to Dr. Elena FitzPatrick Sifford it could be the very first image of a black African individual in the Americas... (Compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Something of the context to this is given by Eloise Quiñones Keber in her commentary on the Codex: ‘In New Spain during these years of social and political realignment, there were periodic uprisings of blacks, both enslaved and free, who allied with oppressed Indians against the Spaniards. One such widespread uprising in 1536, possibly represented here, involved a conspiracy to kill all Spaniards and install a black king.’

Read Dr. Sifford’s full article, which includes several other examples from colonial-era codices, online (link below).

Image and quote from Codex Telleriano-Remensis, facsimile edition - Eloise Quiñones Keber, University of Texas Press, 1995.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Apr 05th 2020

‘Mexican Manuscripts and the First Images of Africans in the Americas’ (PDF)
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