General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 29 Nov 2020/5 Flower
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Original Codex Fejervary-Mayer on display World Museum Liverpool

‘Codex Corner’: Different names for ancient books

Ancient Mexican/Mesoamerican books, such as the one shown here (part of the original Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, on display in the World Museum, Liverpool), are generally referred to as ‘codices’ - nowadays, this just means old, hand-written manuscripts of several pages. Here are just some of the more descriptive terms that people have used over the years to refer to them... (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

• ‘performance script for multimedia storytelling event’ (John Pohl)
• screenfold
• (accordion-style) concertina book
• ‘mirror’ (Florentine Codex)
• ‘portable mural’
• ‘dream book’, ‘thought paintings’, ‘maps of space and time’ (Gordon Brotherston)
• storyboard
• memory aid (mnemonic devices)
• scroll
• ‘system of ciphers’ with encoded information
• ritual book
• almanac
• proto-Powerpoint
• written-oral hybrid

And what did the Mexica (Aztecs) call them? Well, technically their word for ‘book’,
amoxtli, in Nahuatl combines amatl (bark paper) and oxitl (pine gum), so something like ‘gum books’...!

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jan 06th 2020

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