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THE GROLIER CODEX
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS © JUSTIN KERR File Number K4822

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First published by The Grolier Club, 1973 in The Maya Scribe and His World Michael D. Coe Photographs by Justin Kerr

From: The Maya Scribe and His World The Grolier Codex Collection: private collection, New York Provenance: unknown cm; average width of page12.5 cm Text: Venus Tables General remarks This is the fourth pre-Conquest codex known for the Maya; the others are the Dresden, Madrid, and Paris. Said to have been found together with a mosaic mask in a late Maya-Mexican style now at Dumbarton Oaks (von Winning 1968, pl. 333), it must owe its preservation to the dry conditions of a cave somewhere in the Maya area. Its coming to light is thus anexceptionally rare event. Like its three fellow codices, the Grolier Codex is a folding-screen book painted on bark paper which has been coated with stucco. Despite the fact that both sides are stuccoed, only the obverse is painted, a situation which has been cited by some correspondents as grounds for doubting its authenticity. However, four pages of the Dresden have been left blank, and thereverse sides of the Cospi and Vindobonensis, both folding-screen pictorials from non-Maya Mexico, must have remained blank for many years before being painted in a totally different style and content from the obverse sides. In fact, only thirteen of thirty-seven pages of the Vindobonensis are painted. In my opinion, the Grolier was buried, ceremonially deposited, or otherwise taken out of circulationbefore the reverse could have been used by the ancient scribe. The codex comprises eleven pages or leaves surviving from a book which, as will be shown, must have contained twenty pages. The bottom part of the codex is poorly preserved, having been eroded through moisture which has stained the surfaces near the damaged edges. Only the central portion of page 11 remains, so that it is not possibleto identity it with any certainty as part of the codex. Five additional pieces of bark paper, none of them with any stucco, are associated with the codex. All are single sheets, brown in color, and somewhat water-stained. One of these adheres to the stucco on the reverse of page 8 at a 30º angle; another small piece sticks to the reverse of page 10 at right angles. Three additional pieces, whichin general appearance are identical with the foregoing, are now separate from the codex but were surely with it when it was found. Two of these are doubled over, and down the edge of one runs a painted line in exactly the same hematite red that was used in the codex. Adhering to it was a smaller piece of bark paper, also folded over on itself, with crumpled edge. This was submitted to TeledyneIsotopes for radiocarbon dating. The determination (1-6107) is A.D. 1230 ± 130. Assumed that this also dates the work, the codex was probably painted some time in the thirteenth century, a dating in accord with its style and content. Colors have been used sparingly in the Grolier Codex. They are confined to a rich hematite red, deep black, a brown wash, a thin red wash, and blue-green, all setagainst the strong while background. Where water-staining has not altered the surface, the colors have a freshness that is truly remarkable. On each page there is a standing figure facing left, always holding a weapon of some sort and generally restraining a captive by a rope. Along the left-hand edge of the page is a vertical row of day signs (thirteen where the column is complete), and with each daysign a Date: thirteenth century Dimensions: greatest height of page 18.0

numerical coefficient in the bar-and-dot system. In a space left above the scene is a bar-and-dot number surrounded by a ring, sometimes accompanied by another numeral given only by dots. The sequence in which each page was painted is fairly clear. First of all, the lower boundary of the scene was established by a thin...
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