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The Codex Zouche-Nuttall

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Codex Zouche-Nuttall
  • Description

    Codex (screenfold manuscript book) comprising 47 leaves, made of deer skin, painted. Contains two narratives: one side of the document relates the history of important centres in the Mixtec region, while the other, starting at the opposite end, records the genealogy, marriages and political and military feats of the Mixtec ruler, Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1200-1521
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 113.5 centimetres
    • Height: 19 centimetres (page)
    • Width: 23.5 centimetres (page)
  • Curator's comments

    See also:
    Z. Nuttall, Codex Nuttall: facsimile of an ancient Mexican codex belonging to Lord Zouche of Harynworth, England (Cambridge, Mass., Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 1902)
    E.H. Boone, Stories in red and black: pictorial histories of the Aztec and Mixtecs (Austin, University of Texas Press, 2000)
    G. Brotherstone, Painted books of Mexico (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
    F. Anders, M. Jansen and G. A. Pérez Jiménez, Códice Zouche-Nuttall, facsimile with commentary and line drawing (Madrid, Sociedad Estatal Quinto Centenario; Graz, Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt; Mexico City, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1992)McEwan 1994, p.62
    <b>Codex Zouche-Nuttall</b>
    (Referring to scene in AN00033073002) This is a scene from one of the rare surviving examples of a Mixtec codex. Vivid, highly stylised two-dimensional images painted upon deerskin record the dynastic histories and oral traditions of ancient towns such as Tilantongo. A central figure is the ruler 8 Deer, seen hee top right gambling for the town of Tutupec, identified by its place glyph at the bottom left. In the foreground is an I-shaped ball-court. The ball game was used as a means of negotiating and resolving political and territorial disputes.<b> McEwan 2009, p.34

    Scene of a woman giving birth, Teozacoalco Annals (Zouche-Nuttall Screenfold). Painted Deerskin, Mixtec, Mexico, 15th-16th century AD </b>

    The Teozacoalco Annals are one of a group of vividly informative screenfolds from towns in the Mixteca region of western Oaxaca. They record the genealogies of rival families over many generations and illustrate the deeds of specific identified by name glyphs, including Eight Deer Jaguar Claw who ruled in the 11th century. Place-signs and day-signs provide the location and date for many of the main episodes in the narrative such as births, succession to office, marriages, war, conquests and deaths.
    The scene illustrated in detail here shows Lady Five Flint, whose serpent insignia floats behind her, giving birth to an heir, still attached by the umbilical cord. This event takes place on the day Three Flint of the year Three Flint, indicated by the glyphs beneath and at top left of the blue roundel. She thendisappears head first into an opening - presumably a cave - in the side of a mountain, identified by diagonal bands, with four priests in attendance.


  • Bibliography

    • HMAI 240 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 1994 p.62 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2009 pp. 34-35, 48-49, 66-67 bibliographic details
    • Fields, Pohl & Lyall 2012 pp.32-33, 93, 98-99, 126, 220 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2012 28 March – 1 July, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Children of the Plumed Serpent
    2012 29 July – 25 Nov, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Children of the Plumed Serpent

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    In 1859, the codex turned up in a Dominican monastery in Florence. Years later, Sir Robert Curzon, 14th Baron Zouche (1810-73), loaned it to The British Museum. His books and manuscripts were inherited by his sister, who donated the Codex to the Museum in 1917.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • BM Add. MSS 39671
Facsimile of Codex Zouche-Nuttall, made of paper.

Facsimile of Codex Zouche-Nuttall, made of paper.

Image description



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Object reference number: ESA8026

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