Florentine Codex: Book 11


Book 11: Earthly Things

Two of the world’s leading scholars of the Aztec language and culture have translated Sahagún’s monumental and encyclopedic study of native life in Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest. This immense undertaking is the first complete translation into any language of Sahagún’s Nahuatl text, and represents one of the most distinguished contributions in the fields of anthropology, ethnography, and linguistics.

Written between 1540 and 1585, the Florentine Codex (so named because the manuscript has been part of the Laurentian Library’s collections since at least 1791) is the most authoritative statement we have of the Aztecs’ lifeways and traditions—a rich and intimate yet panoramic view of a doomed people.

The Florentine Codex is divided by subject area into twelve books and includes over 2,000 illustrations drawn by Nahua artists in the sixteenth century.

Book Eleven is a beautifully written and careful documentation of all of the animals and plants known to the Aztecs in the sixteenth century. As the volume with the most illustrations, Earthly Things allows the reader to look at the natural world through the eyes of the Aztec.


Charles E. Dibble (1909-2002) was an anthropologist, linguist, and scholar specializing in Mesoamerican cultures. He received his master’s and doctorate degrees from the Universidad Nacional Autónomo de México and taught at the University of Utah from 1939-1978, where he became a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology.

Arthur J. O. Anderson (1907-1996) was an anthropologist specializing in Aztec culture and language. He received his MA from Claremont College and his PhD in anthropology from the University of Southern California. He was a curator of history and director of publications at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe and taught at a number of institutions, including San Diego State University, from which he retired.

For their work on the Florentine Codex, both Dibble and Anderson received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor of the Mexican government; from the King of Spain the received the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica) and the title of Commander (Comendador).
 


Table of Contents:
Table of Contents:

1. Telleth of the four-footed animals

2. Telleth of all the different kinds of birds

3. Telleth of all the animals which dwell in the water

4. Telleth of still other animals which live in the water: the edible ones

5. Telleth of the various serpents, and of still other creatures which live on the ground

6. Telleth of the various trees, and of the various properties which correspond to them, such as their strength

7. Telleth of all the different herbs

8. Telleth of all the precious stones

9. Telleth of all the metals which are in the earth

10. Telleth of the really fine stones

11. Telleth of all the different colors

12. In which are mentioned, are named, the different kings of water and the different kinds of earth

13. Telleth of all the kinds of sustenance

Index of Nahuatl terms
 


Praise and Reviews:

“Highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries.”—Choice


“A great scholarly enterprise.”—New Mexico Historical Review
 


“Bringing the knowledge of modern scholarship to bear on their materials, the translators have been able to illuminate many obscurities in the text. The complete series of volumes is a landmark of scholarly achievement.”—The New Mexican
 


“This publication of Sahagún makes available to scholars and their students alike the original Nahuatl text for comparison with the more easily accessible Spanish text, which is in many places merely an abridgment or précis of the original. A whole series of native sources for the study of Mexican pre-conquest history is now at hand for a field of historical study formerly restricted to a small number of investigators. A whole chapter of the cultural history of early Colonial Mexico is unfolding before us. [The Codex is] an impressive monument to Spanish humanism in the sixteenth-century New World.”—The Hispanic American Historical Review
 


“Sahagún emerges as the indisputable founder of ethnographic science. The accomplishments of the joint translators, Dibble and Anderson, will surely rank among the greatest achievements of American ethnohistorical scholarship.”—Natural History

 

“Highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries.”—Choice


“A great scholarly enterprise.”—New Mexico Historical Review
 


“Bringing the knowledge of modern scholarship to bear on their materials, the translators have been able to illuminate many obscurities in the text. The complete series of volumes is a landmark of scholarly achievement.”—The New Mexican
 


“This publication of Sahagún makes available to scholars and their students alike the original Nahuatl text for comparison with the more easily accessible Spanish text, which is in many places merely an abridgment or précis of the original. A whole series of native sources for the study of Mexican pre-conquest history is now at hand for a field of historical study formerly restricted to a small number of investigators. A whole chapter of the cultural history of early Colonial Mexico is unfolding before us. [The Codex is] an impressive monument to Spanish humanism in the sixteenth-century New World.”—The Hispanic American Historical Review
 


“Sahagún emerges as the indisputable founder of ethnographic science. The accomplishments of the joint translators, Dibble and Anderson, will surely rank among the greatest achievements of American ethnohistorical scholarship.”—Natural History