In the event of a government shutdown, American History will remain OPEN through at least Saturday, October 7, by using prior year funds. Visit for updates.

Codex Telleriano-Remensis

Codex Telleriano-Remensis

Usage conditions apply
The civilizations of pre-Hispanic Mexico recorded their histories, religious beliefs, and scientific knowledge in books called codices. Codices are folded pieces of hide or bark that depict both mundane and spiritual scenes with images, symbols, and numbers. Scribes and painters busily recorded daily affairs, filling libraries and temples with books throughout Mexico and Central America. The majority of these illustrated books did not survive the Spanish conquest. But indigenous scribes trained by Spanish missionaries continued writing. While these colonial-era texts were still filled with pictures, over time they referenced the visual language of older Mexican and Maya books less and less. These new books about community histories (including land titles) and secret religious traditions were sometimes bilingual, combining Spanish with either Náhautl (the common language of central Mexico) or a Mayan language, both of which were now written with the Latin alphabet. This image is from an Italian reproduction of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, a manuscript co-written by Spanish friar Pedro de los Ríos about 1550. It documents the religious beliefs, calendar system, traditions, and history of the Tolteca-Chichimeca culture of Central Mexico. Joseph Florimond, Duc de Loubat, (1837–1921) was an American philanthropist who published a series of reproductions of pre-Hispanic and colonial-era Mexican manuscripts, including the Codex Telleriano-Remensis. The Graphic Arts Collection of the National Museum of American History houses several reproductions of Mesoamerican codices published for study by French, German, and Italian scholars at the turn of the 20th century.
Description (Spanish)
Las civilizaciones del México prehispano registraron sus historias, creencias religiosas y conocimientos científicos en libros denominados códices. Los códices son piezas plegadas de cuero o corteza que describen tanto escenas mundanas como espirituales mediante imágenes, símbolos y números. Escribas y pintores registraron afanosamente asuntos de la vida diaria, llenando bibliotecas y templos con libros en todo México y América Central. La mayoría de estos libros ilustrados no sobrevivieron a la conquista española. Pero los escribas indígenas adiestrados por misioneros españoles continuaron escribiendo. Mientras que estos textos de la época colonial aún se observan plenos de imágenes, con el tiempo fueron dejando de hacer referencia al lenguaje visual de los antiguos libros mexicanos y mayas. Estos nuevos libros sobre historias de la comunidad (incluyendo títulos territoriales) y sobre tradiciones religiosas secretas a menudo eran bilingües, combinando español con náhuatl (la lengua común a la región de México central) o con una lengua maya, ambas ya escritas con el alfabeto latino. Esta imagen pertenece a una reproducción italiana del Codex Telleriano-Remensis, manuscrito con cuya escritura colaboró el fraile español Pedro de los Ríos alrededor de 1550. Se documentan en él las creencias religiosas, el sistema calendario, las tradiciones y la historia de la cultura Tolteca-Chichimeca de México Central. Joseph Florimond, Duc de Loubat, (1837-1921) fue un filántropo norteamericano que publicó una serie de reproducciones de manuscritos de la época prehispánica y colonial de México, incluyendo el Codex Telleriano-Remensis. La Colección de Artes Gráficas del Museo Nacional de Historia Americana alberga varias reproducciones de los códices mesoamericanos publicados para su estudio por eruditos franceses, alemanes e italianos a principios del siglo XX.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Photomechanical Lithographic Processes
Other Terms
Book; Photomechanical Lithography
Date made
Associated Date
Duc de Loubat
Place Made
Italy: Latian, Rome
place of publication
Italy: Tuscany, Florence
site of original
Physical Description
parchment (overall material)
ink (overall material)
overall: 18 in x 13 in; 45.72 cm x 33.02 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Cultures & Communities
Mexican America
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.