Chicomoztoc: The Origins of the Tribes that Settled in or Close to Mexico


The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, depicts Chicomoztoc, with men and women. Chicomoztoc, which means "seven caves," the place from which the Aztecs believed they came, was the Nahautl word for the mouth or womb. In the Aztec myth of creation, the Mexica left the bowels of the earth and settled in Aztlán, from which they acquired the name Aztec and from where they undertook a migration southward in search of a sign for where they should settle once more.

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Publication Information



Title in Original Language

Cuevas de los siete linajes que poblaron en México y alrededor dél

Type of Item

Physical Description

Ink and watercolor on paper ; 21 x 15.2 centimeters


  • Illustration from verso leaf 85

Last updated: October 26, 2012