Princeton Mesoamerican Manuscript, no. 9

Title: Codex Pérez

Date: ca. 1877

Language(s): Yucatec with some Spanish


An anthology containing excerpts from the Books of Chilam Balam of Maní and Oxkutzcab, tables of native and Christian calendars, prophecies, astrological almanacs, and history. The manuscript is complete, comprising both the whole of the Pérez transcription and the annotations added by Carrillo y Ancona between 1868 and 1877. The manuscript is divided into three parts. Part I contains correlations of Maya and Christian dates with prognostications based on Maya and European astrology. Part II is chiefly devoted to prophecy and historical chronicles, including the Maní Chronicle. Part III contains various almanacs, prophecies, and calendar data, plus the Maní land treaty of 1557. Also includes illustrations and Maya hieroglyphs. The manuscript was named, by Bishop Crescencio Carrillo y Ancona, for its 19th-century compiler, Juan Pío Pérez, who lived and worked in Mérida, Yucatán.


Material and Layout: Paper; 70 leaves; 35 x 25 cm.


Probably the personal fair copy of Crescencio Carrillo y Ancona, copied in late 1877. Later provenance unknown.


George E. Stuart. "The Princeton Manuscript of the Codex Pérez," Princeton University Library Chronicle 53, no. 3 (1991-92), pp. 297-309. 

Princeton Mesoamerican Manuscript, no. 10

Title: Nahuatl Sermons and the Play "Holy Wednesday"

Date: ca. 1590

Language(s): Nahuatl, Spanish, and Latin


Manuscript notebook comprised chiefly of one or more cycles of Spanish sermons and sermon notes, referenced by feast day and accompanied by Scriptural readings in Latin; as well as brief extracts from other devotional texts and other notes in Spanish--for example, concerning medicinal recipes (fol. 218v) and a contemporary inscription mentioning two Spanish officials "juan diaz de aguero procurador general de los yndios y licenciado gaspar de valdes labrador de los yndios" (fol. 220v). Written down and corrected in an unruled bound book over a period of years, probably in the 1590s by a Franciscan friar working in or near Tlatelolco and Puebla (specifically Tecali, Huexotzingo, and Tlaxcala), New Spain. The contents are partially indexed (fols. 1r-2v). Of particular interest are two Nahuatl texts written in another hand: (1) sermons in Nahuatl and Latin (fols. 44r-54v), the first of which is described in the manuscript as having been given in "Sanctiago delante" by several priests, principally the Franciscan Fray Gerónimo de Mendieta (1525-1604), who was at Tlatelolco in the 1590s; and (2) a Nahuatl version of Ausías Izquierdo Zebrero's Spanish religious drama concerning Holy Wednesday, with related texts (fols. 201r-215v).


Material and Layout: Paper; 215 leaves; 22 x 15 cm.

Binding: Original limp vellum with end ties


Early ownership of the manuscripts is indicated by upper fore-edge brands for the Colegio Imperial de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, at the Franciscan church and friary in Tlatelolco; and in the 18th century was in the Convento de San Pedro y San Pablo de Santiago Calimaya, also in greater Mexico City. The manuscript was acquired by Agustn Fischer (1825-87) and was item 1933 in his library before being sold by the London auctioneers Puttick & Simpson in 1869 to Sir Thomas Phillipps through his agent, a "Mr. Cole." It is described as "Sermons in Spanish & Mexican" in Philipps' Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum in Bibliotheca D. Thomae Phillipps, Bart., A.D. 1837 (Middle Hill: Sir Thomas Phillipps, 1837), p. 394, no. 21298. The Phillipps' number is written in the manuscript on the inside front cover and on fol. 2r. The manuscript was sold twice at Sotheby's (London)--first in 1919 to Sir R. Leiester Harmsworth and again in 1948 to Florencio Gavito, viscount of Alborada and Villarubio (1882-1960), whose bookplate is found in the inside front cover. Old shelf numbers "198' and "219" are on the spine.


Louise M. Burkhart. "A Nahuatl Religious Drama from Sixteenth-Century Mexico," Princeton University Library Chronicle 53, no. 3 (1991-92). pp. 264-86.

Louise M. Burkhart. Holy Wednesday: a Nahua drama from Early Colonial Mexico. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996). 

Princeton Mesoamerican Manuscripts, no. 11

Title: Maya Conch Shell

Date: 761


This conch shell, thought to come from the Yucatan, still contains red pigment from its use as the ink pot of a Maya calligrapher. The red letter hieroglyphs engraved into the body of the shell contain a date equivalent to March 17, 761 and the name of the Royal Calligrapher, "He of the Holy Books." This is the earliest dated American manuscript in the Princeton University Library.


Material and Layout: 1 item ; 12 x 29 x 7 cm.


Alfred L. Bush. "Cover Note," Princeton University Library Chronicle 53, no. 3 (1991-92). pp. 345-48.


Originated in the Yucatan. Later provenance unknown. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Taplin, Jr.

Princeton Mesoamerican Manuscripts, no. 12

Title: Maya Painted Bowl

Date: 700-899


Maya painted pottery was often funerary. These two bowls bear hieroglyphic texts and are thought to be from late classic Maya tombs. Made in Guatemala.


Material and Layout: 2 items


Gift of Gillett G. Griffin, ca. 1970.

 Princeton 1-4
Princeton 5-8
Princeton 13-22