Codex Borgia

Cod. Vat. mess. 1 - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Borgia-Codex, Códice Borgia

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Alternate Titles

Códice Borgia

Extent / Format

78 pages / 27.0 x 26.5 cm

15th century
Former owners

Cardinal Stefano Borgia

Facsimile editions available


The Codex Borgia is probably one of the most beautiful preserved old American illuminated manuscripts. The predominant content of the manuscript deals with calendar sooth-saying, as well as the knowledge of time-lapse and yearly time through the temple scholars. Fantastic illustrations of groups of figures and mysterious Gods animate the 78 illustrated pages of the manuscript. In addition one also finds the most amazing rituals from the grand Aztec empire, which is particularly fascinating because they are rituals of a primarily private and personal character.

The Codex Borgia is completely unique amongst the group of old and preserved Mexican manuscripts due to its description of the great “national” temple rituals. The spiritual acts provide witness to the seemingly strange world of old Mexico before its destruction by the Spanish Conquistadors.

The wealth of information which guides us through the pages of this splendiferous manuscript is inexhaustible. The great wisdom of the old priest scholars is depicted by showing their ultimate achievement. The drawings demonstrate a deep intimate design as well as the artistic accomplishment of the painter. In completing this old Mexican manuscript, the painter shares with us an insight into a magnificent and extinct culture.

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