The Boban Aztec Calendar Wheel


This Aztec pictorial calendar wheel, commonly known as the Boban calendar wheel, is printed on amatl (fig bark) paper. Initially dated to approximately 1530, it has now been more accurately dated to 1545–46. The initial dating derived from the identification of two figures shown in the document, one said to be Hernán Cortés and another said to be Don Antonio Pimentel Tlahuitoltzin, depicted as the son of Ixtlilxochitl. The scholar Patricia Lopes Don has argued for the date of 1545–46 based on the fact that Don Antonio Pimentel Tlahuitoltzin was the ruler of Texcoco de Mora from 1540–46. The outside ring of the calendar is comprised of glyphs for the 18 months of veintenas (20 days), which make up the Aztec calendar. This outside ring surrounds a central three-part history with three pairs of figures and glosses in Nahuatl and Spanish. The Boban calendar wheel is the result of a succession dispute between the family of Don Antonio Pimentel Tlahuitoltzin, shown seated on the upper right, represented by his heir Don Hernando de Chávez, the seated figure on the upper left, and Don Carlos Ometochtli Chichimecatecotl, who was backed by Spain. This document was intended to prove that Don Antonio Pimentel Tlahuitoltzin had the legal right to be ruler of Texcoco de Mora. The outside ring of the calendar as well as the central three-part history is hand colored and probably drawn and composed by two hands. The calendar is named after Eugène Boban, a French archeologist and collector. It was brought to general attention in 1866 when Colonel Louis Doutrelaine published a reproduction and explanation of the calendar in Archives de la commission scientifique de Mexique (Paris, 1866–67). Because of deterioration, the reproduction made in 1866 shows much greater detail than the original.

Last updated: October 26, 2012