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The Codex Borgia: A Full-Color Restoration of the Ancient Mexican Manuscript (Dover Fine Art, History of Art) Paperback – June 22, 1993


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The Codex Borgia: A Full-Color Restoration of the Ancient Mexican Manuscript (Dover Fine Art, History of Art) + An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya + Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of The Mayan Book of The Dawn of Life and The Glories of Gods and Kings
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Fine Art, History of Art
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 22, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486275698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486275697
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Considered by many scholars the finest extant Mexican codex and one of the most important original sources for the study of pre-Columbian religion, the Codex Borgia is a work of profound beauty, filled with strange and evocative images related to calendrical, cosmological, ritual, and divinatory matters. Generally similar to such Mixtec manuscripts as the Codex Nuttall, the Codex Borgia is thought to have its origin (ca. A.D. 1400) in the southern central highlands of Mexico, perhaps in Puebla or Oaxaca. It is most probably a religious document that once belonged to a temple or sacred shrine.
One use of the Codex many have been to divine the future, for it includes ritual 260 day calendars, material on aspects of the planet Venus, and a sort of numerological prognostic of the lives of wedded couples. Another section concerns various regions of the world and the supernatural characters and attributes of those regions. Also described are the characteristics of a number of deities, while still other passages relate to installation ceremonies of rulers in pre-Columbian kingdoms.
Until the publication of this Dover edition, the Codex Borgia has been largely inaccessible to the general public. The priceless original is in the Vatican Library and previous photographic facsimiles are very rare or very expensive or both. Moreover, the original Codex has been damaged over the centuries, resulting in the obscuration and loss of many images. In order to recapture the beauty and grandeur of the original, Gisele Diaz and Alan Rodgers have painstakingly restored the Codex by hand—a seven-year project—employing the most scrupulous research and restoration techniques. The result is 76 large full-color plates of vibrant, striking depictions of gods, kings, warriors, mythical creatures, and mysterious abstract designs—a vivid panorama that offers profound insights into pre-Columbian Mexican myth and ritual. Now students, anthropologists, lovers of fine art and rare books— anyone interested in the art and culture of ancient Mexico—can study the Codex Borgia in this inexpensive, accurate, well-made edition. An informative introduction by noted anthropologist Bruce E. Byland places the Codex in its historical context and helps elucidate its meaning and significance.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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You will be amazed and things will make sense.
TheMonsta
As an artist with a little knowledge of this culture and how it was depicted, I found the illustrations in this book very inspirational..
Mariyn
After my order for 4 items i wanted to add the fifth book.
DI Helmut Heinricher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on June 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
An excellent source book for anyone looking for authentic reproductions of the original that is housed in the Vatican Libray. This is a reproduction of an ancient document from the Mixtecs, around 1400 AD, from the area today known as Puebla or Oaxaxa. The project took seven years to complete as they painstakingly reproduced the Codex with accuracy and authenticity. The color plates are a delight to the eye as they depict kings, mythical warriors and the Mixtec belief system. Each plate is explained, in great detail, in the beginning of the book for your convevience. The colorful plates are intricate and exact on thick high quality paper. This is great stuff for an artist working in any medium that needs inspiration or just wants to reproduce. A good book for history buffs too.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Scott Chamberlain VINE VOICE on January 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful resouce for those interested in ancient Mexico. Full photographic facsimilies of these codices are hideously expensive, and really, most are not in great shape. After extensive research, we have here a great reproduction of what this important work looked like when it was "fresh off the presses." It is beautiful, and in comparison to Dover's similar Codex Nuttall, this work comes with a MUCH better introduction that explains more of the text, the context, and the ideology. Readers will be able to better understand some of the religious principles of the ancient Mexicans (and there is some debate whether this book was painted by Aztecs or Mixtecs, which I won't bore you with!). It shows gods, ceremonies, the calender, and other religious iconography which is interesting, and would be a revelation for more the artisticly inclined. The visuals are wonderfully presented and all in all this is an astonishing bargain. Those with even a casual interest in New World archaeology or art NEED to get this book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By humblebumble on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Be warned that you must compare the images from this reproduction to the original, for three reasons: 1) sometimes the authors of this reproduction use colors that do not match the original codex, 2) sometimes the authors of this reproduction place the wrong imagery in the reproduction, for example a monkey's head instead of a humans head, and 3)Sometimes the authors speculate as to what might have been on a page and they use their own judgment, which might be wrong.

Other than that, this is a great reproduction of the Borgia codex. It is cheap, it is light and it is well made. Another thing to keep in mind, the codex borgia is read left to right, this reproduction was printed right to left, so it forces you to read the codex in the wrong direction.

Look at the "plate number" and the page number in the book, they do not match. Also notice that the plate number is in descending order.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Maxwell Edison, MD on March 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book gives terrific insight into the ancient Mexicans, their theology and world view, and their way of life. The illustrations are extremely well done, and the interpretation is on the mark. A must-have for anyone interested in ancient Mesoamerica.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
A must-have for those interested in the Aztec Calendar. A full-color restoration of one of the few remaining ancient manuscripts. It opens up the fascinating world of Aztec gods and their relation to the calendar. A pity that it doesn't give a full explanation for every page.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By reader on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a very strange and beautiful book in pictures. It reads like a dream if you tune in to it, and reveals very deep meanings about the relation between life and death, the human relation to the forces of nature, and time. Even though there are no words, it is possible to understand. If you get into it the symbols become more and more recognizable, and they begin to speak. the calendrical symbols and the spirit deities are completely recognizable. The sequences are all about times, and there is a big element about sacrifice. It has to do with the consequences of change; there is no life without death. The book has a very powerful image of life and death fused back to back that pretty much is the epitome of all the book is about. It's all about life and death in relation to time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Stokes on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will not go over their 5 star comments except to say that I agree. The amazingly colourful and crisp art in this short book is rivetting. As much as one may credit the reknowned author, deep congratulations should also go to the publisher for a masterful print job.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. zepeda Bravo on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Sin duda este es un título que no debe faltar en ningúna biblioteca personal, ya que la restauración de uno de los principales códices es perfecta, para aquellos interesados en la cultura y ciencia ancestral este códice es de gran ayuda.
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