Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Paris Codex

Paris Codex

The Paris Codex is called Codex Pérez. In addition, people know this book as the Codex Peresianus. It is one of the three pre-Columbian Maya books that are still surviving, dating to 900–1521 AD, which is the postclassic period of the chronology called "Mesoamerican." It was a part of the larger codex. However, only the current fragments of it remain which makes it the shortest of the four codices. The preservation of the document wasn't done properly, because of which the corners of all pages got damaged. As a result, some of the text was lost. This codex is related to a cycle of thirteen 20-year kʼatuns and covers information related to Maya astronomical signs.

People believe that the Paris Codex is painted in western Yucatán, at Mayapan. AD 1200–1525 is considered the late postclassic period. Around 1450, it has been dated. However, recently, an earlier date of 1185 was suggested by placing the document in early postclassic. AD 900–1200 is considered the period of early postclassic. The information about astronomy and the calendar in this codex remained consistent during the period from AD 731 to 987. This period was considered a Classic period cycle. It means that the codex is a copy of a much earlier document. The Bibliothèque Royale of Paris got it in 1832. Now, it is held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris and it is in the Département des Manuscrits.

What Is The Paris Codex?

Paris Codex is a Maya manuscript made in the mid-fifteenth century. It is a screen-fold manuscript book made of amate paper. This codex originated from the Mayapán region of Yucatán, located in Mexico. Possibly, it is a copy of a book that dates from the classic period of Mesoamerican civilization.

It is assumed that this codex was in use during the Spanish arrival in the Yucatán in the early stage of the 16th century. This book describes almanacs and ritual calendars. Moreover, it contains astronomical data and some tools for prognostication.

More Information About Paris Codex:

The devotion of the codex is to the Mayan ritual. Also, it is devoted to the ceremony, which is held with the purpose of celebrating the end of a 20-year period. The Paris codex is fragmentary. Paper from tree bark is used to compose it. This codex looks like a long strip.  There are a total of eleven individual leaves containing 22 pages of columns where you can see images and glyphs of gods. Additionally, you will get to see the set of year-bearers in this codex that can give a hint to the date when it was created: a period between the Mayan history's Classic and Conquest periods.

The manuscript consists of eleven panels, most of which are painted on both sides. Once the book is unfolded, it will extend to 138 cm. However, two panels i.e. four pages are lost. This book is popular for its illustrated constellation pages.

Discovery Of Paris Codex:

In 1859, people started knowing about this codex when Léon de Rosny found it in a basket containing old papers. He saw this basket in the chimney's corner in the Bibliothèque Impériale in Paris. Scholars tested the codex around 25 years ago and cataloged this. When this document was found, it had a piece of paper that attributed it to the colonial Maya documents collection that Juan Pío Pérez gathered.

Time Reconning And Prognostication:

This one is a holy book of divination, just like the other surviving Maya books, including the Codex Dresden and the Codex Madrid. This screenfold shows some katuns, which refer to the recording history measurement unit of Maya. You can see the image of Lord of the Katun on all the pages of the document. It also contains glyphs to represent auguries and time periods. The reverse has information related to maize crop yields and the prognostication of rainfall. Additionally, it includes information about spirit forces. To conclude the manuscript, two pages are used, which showcase 13 constellations of the Maya sky.

Style Reflecting Yucatán Visual Tradition:

In this book, you can see images following the style of the East coast of Tulum, Tancah, Cobá, and Mayapán. Textual content as well as formal arrangement aspects help to recall those of the Mayapán stela that contains katuns. You can see aesthetic similarities in the wall paintings' rendering at Tancah, Cobá, and Tulum.

From Yucatán To Europe:

The accurate path that the codex travelled between Mexico and Europe is still not known to people. It is assumed that Paris Codex was available in a private collection before its arrival in Paris. This book got its nickname “Codex Peresianus” in the middle of the 19th century from a now lost paper wrapper around, on which "Pérez" was written.

Content Of Paris Codex:

The nature of this codex's content is ritual. In its one part, patron deities and some related rituals for a cycle of thirteen kʼatuns are described. Another fragment elaborated animals that represent the signs of astronomy and ecliptic, like a scorpion and a peccary. Moreover, you can see an image of the fragments of Maya "zodiac" on the two pages of this book. Annotations that are made with Latin characters are used to mark some of its pages.

On one side of this book, every page's normal format follows the same arrangement. You can see a standing depiction at the left hand side on every page. Along with this, you get to see a seated drawing on each page's right side. Every page contains the Ajaw Day glyph and is combined with a numerical coefficient to represent a date that marks a calendrical cycle's last day. The preservation of the document was not done properly, resulting in some text being lost. Fortunately, some texts survived that helped to demonstrate this document's major dates series correspond to the ending of kʼatun that helped in the construction of a few lost date glyphs again in the text. You can see seated figures here that are linked to a sidereal glyph. It means that these figures represent every kʼatun's ruling deity.

You can see two pages in the codex mentioning the days of the tzolkʼin 260-day cycle, which corresponds to the start of every solar year over fifty-two years. In the last two pages, you can see the drawing of a series of thirteen animals that represent the "zodiac". As per the conclusion of the document's modern studies, the end of the zodiac cycle represents a predilection to Mayan fatalism psychologically. According to this, the end of the Mayan Classic Period could be the outcome of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Origin Of Paris Codex:

This codex is expected to be made in Yucatán like the other two generally accepted codices. J. Eric S. Thompson, who is an English Mayanist, thought that the codex was painted in western Yucatán and dated between AD 1250 and 1450. Bruce Love saw similarities between a scene on the codex's 11th page and Stela 1 at Mayapan. Depending on this, he said that this codex was produced In Mayapan, around 1450.

The Bottom Line:

In this article, we have discussed Paris Codex in detail, which is one of the three surviving pre-columbian Maya books. For further queries, feel free to ask us via comments. We are always here to guide you and answer your queries.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where is the Paris Codex?

The Bibliothèque Royale of Paris acquired this codex in 1832. At present, it is held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, in the Département des Manuscrits.

  1. How many codices survive today?

Only three or four Maya codices have survived. 

  1. What does codex mean?

Codex refers to an ancient book with some stacked pages, which are hand-written.

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