The Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis is an Aztec herbal manuscript, also known as the Badianus Manuscript, the Codex de la. Returned to Mexico in by the Vatican, the De la Cruz-Badiano Codex, considered the first medical book of the new World, was digitalized. Códice de la Cruz Badiano. Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis by Martin de La Cruz and a great selection of related books, art and collectibles available.

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Commonly known as Codice de la Cruz-Badianoit is considered the first illustrated survey of Mexican nature badiiano in the New World. Inthe son of the Viceroy, Francisco de Mendoza, sent the Latin manuscript to Spain, where it probably remained until the early seventeeth century, when it came into the possession of Diego de Baduano y Sanabria.

It next appeared in the library of the Italian Cardinal Francesco Barberini, where it remained untilwhen the Barberini library became part of the Vatican Library.

At first glance, this marvelous codex resembles a typical medieval herbal. A closer look, however, reveals a fascinating blend of European and Bdiano cultures.

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The codice can be viewed as a form of expression of the Nahua in a context of increased European influence and as a manner of dealing with a changing reality. Visual culture is a powerful means by which different societies depict reality and convey meanings.

Naming and Picturing New World Nature

The images contained in this sixteenth-century manuscript pose great challenges to scholars willing to consider visual evidence as core material coidce historical analysis. What was the purpose of the pictographic material as utilized by the authors of the codice? Can we determine which patterns and conventions are purely Aztec or European?

Is there such thing as a pure visual tradition? Does it make sense to study colonial sources under the assumption of cultural contamination? Aside from questions of cultural purity or contamination, perhaps a more interesting question to be asked is whether the purpose of these illustrations is primarily informational or aesthetic.

As a gift to the king, aesthetics certainly played an important role in the purpose of the illustrations.

Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis – Wikipedia

The beauty of the pictures is undeniable, and the extensive use of colors to depict nature surpasses other depictions of nature of the time. Take for example the Nahua glyph for stone — tetl — which coodice as a ideogram to point to the rocky soil in which the plant grows in bwdiano illustration above.


The ants visible among the roots in the illustration below also indicate the environment in which this plant grows.

The Codice de la Cruz-Badiano is an example of the encounter of between writing systems, and thus of systems of knowledge, with multiple swings from the pictographic-glyphic tradition to the alphabetical. The illustrations are by no means subordinated to the writing. The codice is available in facsimile: Colonial Mexican Herbals of the Sixteenth Century.

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