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 the Cerro de Chapultépec (Hill of the Grasshoppers). An emperor on a throne sits before the hill, which is represented with a winding road and a spring. Military features shown include soldiers with war clubs and shields from three armies, feathered headdresses, and jaguar skin. Huitziláihuitl (or Huitzilihuitl, reigned 1395–1417), the Aztec emperor recognizable by his symbol of the hummingbird with white feathers, sits on his throne at right. Above him are four figures representing the four ancestral tribes of the Aztecs. Three armies converge to annihilate them, the Tepanec of Azcapotzalco, the Chalco (who captured and killed Huitziláihuitl), and the Xochimilca. The chief of one army wears the jaguar skin of a warrior caste and carries a shield with the symbol of the Mitla (the center of Zapotec ceremonies).
Title in Original Language
Cerro de Chapultépec
Type of Item
Watercolor on paper ; 21 x 15.2 centimeters
- Illustration from recto leaf 89
Last updated: December 18, 2013