Current Exhibit: “Sharing Knowledge: 20th-Century Reproductions of the ‘Codex Tonindeye’”

Published March 22, 2023
Updated May 2, 2023

Aerial view of exhibit in Design and Arts library

“Sharing Knowledge: 20th-Century Reproductions of the ‘Codex Tonindeye’” is on display at the Design and the Arts Library from March 22, 2023, until May 4, 2023. The Design and the Arts Library library is open to the public from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Monday to Friday.

You are invited to review the exhibit with Seonaid Valiant, ASU Library’s curator for Latin American Studies, in an upcoming talk, which will include the opportunity to take a close look at three facsimiles of the “Codex Tonindeye” from Mexico, Germany, and England. Join us on Thursday, April 6, 2023, at 3:00 PM in the Design and the Arts Library Reading Room. This event is open to the public but space is limited. Please RSVP to

In the exhibit ”Sharing Knowledge: 20th-Century Reproductions of the ‘Codex Tonindeye,’” the Arizona State University Library highlights three publications of the “Codex Toindeye” (circa 1300). This document is one of the few surviving examples of a Mexican Indigenous document created before the Mixtec people came into contact with Spanish soldiers and priests in the 1500s. Painted on deer hide, it visually traces the history and genealogy of Lord Eight Deer Jaguar Claw, a Mixtec ruler. In the 16th century, the Spanish sent the manuscript from Mexico to Florence, Italy, and in the 1890s, it was acquired by the British Museum, where it is currently housed. 

Since 1902, there have been multiple reproductions of this important pictorial manuscript. The exhibit presents three important reproductions of the codex. Each new publication has led to a deeper understanding of Mixtec culture among scholars of Mexican pictorial manuscripts and prompted new interpretations of the document. 

Aerial view of exhibit in Design and Arts library

Case 1 displays the earliest reproduction of the document, the “Codex Nuttall: Facsimile of an ancient Mexican Codex belonging to Lord Zouche of Harynworth England” (1902). The reproduction is named after the anthropologist Zelia Nuttall, the first scholar to recognize the importance of the manuscript, who closely supervised every detail of this initial reproduction. When Nuttall encountered the original manuscript in 1899, she immediately understood that it was an important Indigenous document from Mexico that had been hidden away in European archives since the 16th century. Determined to share the document with the international scientific community, Nuttall crafted a lavish offset lithograph reproduction, a process that requires a different plate for each color on the page, that would replicate the original as closely as possible. The images were meticulously traced from the original codex, and oil-based inks were used to create striking colors that remain vivid today. A total of 298 copies were printed in England by Gilbert Whitehead and bound in Dresden by Adolar Röhl and his son. 

For many years, the original pictorial manuscript was also referred to as the “Codex Nuttall” in Zelia Nuttall’s honor, but today that title is more properly applied only to this reproduction. In 2004, scholars proposed renaming the original document the “Codex Tonindeye,” a Mixtec word meaning chronicle, to honor its heritage.*

Case 2 displays outline drawings printed in 1992 as part of a reproduction published by Ferdinand Anders, Maarten E. R. G. N Jansen, and Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez, entitled “Crónica Mixteca: el rey 8 Venado, Garra de Jaguar, y la dinastía de Teozacualco-Zaachila: libro explicativo del llamado Codice Zouche-Nuttall.” This edition includes a study that identifies each person on each page of the document. 

Case 3 contains the “Codex Zouche-Nuttall,” a 1987 photographic facsimile presented in the accordion fold style and introduced by Nancy Troike, an important scholar of Mixtec studies. In her introduction, Troike documents how Zelia Nuttall was able to trace the journey of the original pictorial manuscript from Mexico to the San Marco Archive in Florence, and ultimately to the British Museum. 

The Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, part of ASU Library's Distinctive Collections, includes many Latin American Collections holdings. Among these are more than twenty reproductions of Mexican pictorial manuscripts. For more information about the Latin Americana Collection, contact the Curator for Latin American Studies, Seonaid Valiant, PhD (, or submit a request through Ask an Archivist

You can view "The Ancient Mexican Codex: Zelia Nuttall’s recontextualization of the Codex Tonindeye" article through KEEP.

- Seonaid Valiant, PhD, Curator for Latin American Studies, Open Collections Curation and Access

*For more information about Zelia Nuttall’s reproduction of the “Codex Tonindeye” see Seonaid Valiant, “Zelia Nuttall and the Tonindeye Codex: Recontextualization of a Mixtec Pictorial Manuscript,” in “Printing History” 31/32, January 2023. (Request a copy through Interlibrary Loan.)