Aztec style painting showing two figures facing one another

Aztec painting shown below sent to me by a friend trying to figure out who it is in the image, as well as what the image itself represents or symbolizes and the meaning behind it all as well as the story behind it all.


1 Answer 1


These are a reconstruction and indeed to be found in the Codex Borgia family of codices (original plate 59) and are now commonly described as:

[…] Plate 59: Page 2 of the numerological marriage prognostications, found on page 19. The Codex Borgia also contains images that predict the future, in this case, the probability of success in the marriage. (src)

The earlier and slightly outdated Seler described the picture's details as:

enter image description here
Tlamacazqui, a priest, a self castigating sinner – with Itzpapalotl ("Obsidian butterfly") the chichimecan goddess, the Cinateotl — Together meaning East, eighth night hour, eigth day, when the moon shines in the evening

Giving as an identification of the persons/idols depicted.

More info on decoding the symbols in

— Elizabeth Hill Boone: "Cycles of Time and Meaning in the Mexican Books of Fate", Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture, University of Texas Press: Austin, 2007. (pub)
— Elizabeth Hill Boone:: "Marriage Almanacs in the Mexican Divinatory Codices", Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, vol.28 no.89 México sep. 2006. (doi)
— Eduard Seler: "Codex Borgia, eine altmexikanische Bilderschrift der Bibliothek der Congregatio de propaganda fide", Unger: Berlin, 1904. (on partially on archive.org, complete with commentary on individual plates here)
— Bodo Spranz: "Göttergestalten in den mexikanischen Bilderhandschriften der Codex Borgia-Gruppe: eine ikonographische Untersuchung", Issue 4 of Acta Humboldtiana: Series geographica et ethnographica, Deutsche Ibero-Amerika-Stiftung, F. Steiner, 1964. (worldcat)

In depth analysis of the 'manual for divination' aspects; this plate:

When the sum of the numbers of the calendar names is 16.

The man is painted black as a priest: on his head is the bloody punch of the self-sacrifice. But there is also the vice coral; another coral surrounds his neck. The woman has the word and is under the influence of the god of death. Both are sitting on jaguar skin thrones: they have positions of command. In their hands they hold an axe and a sharp stone: execution and punishment. A coral pierces the pot: vices that affect the sustenance. A pot with broken punches: self-sacrifice is in vain.

— Ferdinand Anders & Maarten Jansen & Luis Reyes Garcia: "Los Templos del Cielo y de la Oscuridad. Oráculos y Liturgia Libro explicativo del llamado Códice Borgia", Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstait: Wien, 1993. (src)

The reconstruction most probably being the direct source for this version in question seems to be:
— Gisele Díaz & Alan Rodgers: "The Codex Borgia: A Full-Color Restoration of the Ancient Mexican Manuscript", Dover, 1993.

For comparison, the Vatican version looks like the first, and the facsimile at the British Museum looks like this:

src Vatican src British Museum

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