Chavero Codex of Huexotzingo


The Chavero Codex concerns economics and taxation. It is written in Latin characters and contains 18 plates of glyphs and numerical counts using the Mesoamerican system of numbers and measurement, with variations that originated in the region of Huexotzingo (in present-day Puebla, Mexico). The codex is a part of the documentation of a judicial proceeding in the royal court, initiated by the community of Huexotzingo against indigenous officials accused of levying unjust and excessive taxes. The officials, responding to a questionnaire, describe the different taxes paid by the 21 districts of Huexotzingo between 1571 and 1577: in money, maize, and shirts and blankets. The lawsuit involved depositions by all of the officials, past and present, and is thus a valuable source of information about the indigenous governing body. Each district submitted an account of the taxes it paid each year. Seventeen of these accounts are preserved on the codex, one per plate. The remaining plate outlines the charges for extraordinary projects, in particular the construction of the church in the San Salvador district. The accounts use the Mesoamerican numeric system, with some variations characteristic of the Mexica system: quantities are represented by adding objects, a rhombus shape multiplies a quantity by 10, a half moon represents 15, the flag or pantli represents 20, and a bundle of hair, tzontli, signifies 400.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Códice Chavero de Huexotzingo

Type of Item

Physical Description

139 pages measuring 31.5 x 22 centimeters, written in Spanish, and 18 plates measuring 31.5 x 43 centimeters, covered with glyphs and accounts in the Mesoamerican tradition


  • The codex belonged to the collection of Italian historian and antique-collector Lorenzo Boturini between 1735 and 1743; and later to the Mexican historian Alfredo Chavero, who donated it to the National Museum of Mexico in 1906.

Last updated: May 24, 2017