The Dresden Codex. Mayan Astrological, Ritualistic Manuscript. 1500s.
Maya codices (singular codex) are folding books or manuscripts stemming from the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, written in Maya hieroglyphic script on Mesoamerican bark cloth. The codices are the products of professional scribes working under the patronage of deities such as the Tonsured Maize God and the Howler Monkey Gods. There were many codices in existence at the time of the Spanish conquest of Yucatán in the 16th century, however most were destroyed by the Conquistadors. Today only four Mayan manuscripts exist worldwide, of which the oldest and best preserved is the Dresden Codex, held in the collections of the Saxon State and University Library in Germany. The manuscript was purchased for the Dresden court library in 1739 in Vienna, as a “Mexican book.” In 1853 it was identified as a Mayan manuscript. Consisting of 39 leaves, inscribed on both sides, the manuscript originally was folded in an accordion-like manner. The codex depicts hieroglyphs and numerals and figures, and contains ritual and divination calendars, calculations of the phases of Venus, eclipses of the sun and moon, instructions relating to new-year ceremonies, and descriptions of the locations of the Rain God. -World Library