Amoxtli: Painted Histories of Indigenous Mexico


Amoxtli is the word for “book” in Nahuatl, one of the indigenous languages of Mexico. This exhibition highlights painted books created and used by the Nahua, Ñnu Dzaui (Mixtec), and Maya peoples from ancient times through the first century of Spanish colonization, and their continued uses and relevance over time. Indigenous painted books contain valuable information about history, religion, the natural world, economics, society, and the law. Their changing interpretations over the centuries show that arguments about the past always have important stakes in the present.

This online exhibition was curated by USC undergraduate students in the Thematic Options program working under the direction of Professor Daniela Bleichmar as a final project for the class “The Changing History of the Aztec Past” (Fall 2021). The online exhibition is based on a semester of work with rare materials in USC Special Collections, especially from the Boeckmann Collection of Iberian and Latin American materials, and serves as a companion to a physical exhibition installed in Doheny Library between November 2021 and January 2022.

Student curators: Erin Bell, Kellie Cao, Matt Chen, Lauren Gieck, Anna Greer, Rachel Heil, Ashley Hutchinson, Gloria Jin, Kirian Mischke-Reeds, Suhas Peela, Victor Perez, Lepakshi Poonamallee, Cameron Roper, Urban Seiberg, Cari Spencer, Cora Sverdrup, Oliver Tom, Andrew Vu, and Neha Yadav.

With many thanks to Michaella Ulman and Barbara Robinson (USC Special Collections); Tyson Gaskill (USC Libraries Exhibition and Programming); and the Thematic Options program.

This website was produced by staff at the Ahmanson Lab, part of the Sidney Harman Academy at USC Libraries.
Beneath the Paint:
Pre-Hispanic Codices
New Books for a New Time: Indigenous Codices of Colonial Mexico
The World on Paper: Perceptions and Constructions of the Americas
Forces of Change:
The Transformations of Mexican Codices

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