JCB Fellow's Talk: Loïc Vauzelle

March 14, 2018 - 4:00pm

Loïc Vauzelle (L'École Pratique des Hautes Études), John Carter Brown Library Associates Fellow

"The Animals in Aztec Rituals: Deciphering a Visual Language"

In ancient Mesoamerica, and especially in the preconquest Nahua world, the animals played a meaningful role in rituals in which they were involved, whether as sacrificial victims, as costumes worn by human impersonators during dances, or as “raw materials” such as feathers and skins. The animals involved were carefully chosen depending on the context and the aim of the ritual, because they conveyed specific meanings to such an extent that they could be considered as part of a “visual language.” The aim of this research is to decipher this ritual language and its polysemy by finding out what some select animals represented for the Aztecs from an emic perspective, and by relying on 16th-century manuscripts, especially the Codex Tovar held at the John Carter Brown Library and the Florentine Codex, but also on pictorial manuscripts and archaeological data.

The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30 pm.