Created in 1755, Codex Veytia is part of the Magliabechiano Group of manuscripts. The codex was copied from the Codex Ixtlilxochitl by Don Mariano Fernández de Echevarría y Veytia, a Creole lawyer and historian of Mexican history. When Veytia copied the manuscript, it was in the collection of Lorenzo Boturini Benaduci in Mexico City. It functions as an account of eighteen Nahuatl festival days, and it chronicles aspects of ethnic life. Codex Veytia presents variations in images and text from the Codex Ixtlilxochitl. It was produced for the European reader.
Also known as Codex Veitia, the manuscript is comprised of 138 folios on paper. It is in Madrid at the Real Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid. Codex Veytia contains twenty-two drawings copied from Nahuatl-style pictograms and European-influenced figures. However, it eliminates images of Nahua nobles and has added a representation of an Aztec god and a diagram. The accompanying descriptive text is written in Spanish.
Pictographic Tradition Replicated
Codex Veytia images continue the Mesoamerican pictographic tradition. Pictorial content of twenty of these images convey information on deities, feast days, calendars, locations, and abstract concepts with less emphasis on idolatry and human sacrifice than earlier works. Based on copying errors found in the images, scholars have concluded that the illustrations were not produced by an indigenous artist.
The unknown artist used the bold colors associated with Aztec pictographs; however, the relaxed lines of the human form renderings do not convey the same visual impact as those of Codex Tudela and Codex Magliabechiano.
An image of Huītzilōpōchtli, the Aztec sun god, on fol. 15r, does not appear in Codex Ixtlilxochitl and displays the same European figural proportions as the depiction of the water deity Tlaloc. The additional diagram, also not present in the Codex Ixtlilxochitl, demonstrates the astronomical calculations of the solar year.
A Christianized Text Meant to Please European Readers
A note in the codex (fol. 55r) states that is was copied from Codex Ixtlilxochitl in 1755 in Mexico City. Veytia also identified this codex’s previous owners. As Codex Ixtlilxochitl is a copy of the Codex Tudela, Codex Veytia contains the same information as its predecessors with some edited versions of rituals. These accounts became etymologies of Nahuatl words and descriptions of regalia, topics appealing to European readers.
The text includes an account of the veintena calendar without a diagram and an excerpt from Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngara’s seventeenth-century chronicle of daily life in Mexico City. In this way, it varies from the other two codices.
According to scholars, Veytia and others who copied the Magliabechiano Group of manuscripts misrepresented the Nahua culture by Christianizing some content such as the genealogical history of Nahua lords, altering explanations of ceremonies, and using the manuscript format rather than native formats such as the pictographic amoxtli.
Request for Copy
Lorenzo Boturini Benaduci commissioned Veytia to copy the Codex Ixtlilxochitl, which was part of Boturini’s collection in Mexico City. Once in the library of Juan Bautista Muñoz, the manuscript was acquired by the Royal Collection in Madrid in 1799.