For at least two thousand years before the conquest, the peoples of ancient Mexico painted manuscripts on deer hide, paper, and cotton cloth. These codices—which the Aztecs poetically called in tlilli in tlapalli(the red, the black), referring to commonly used colors—took the form of paper sheets, wall-sized cloth maps, and screen-fold and accordion-fold books.
Ancient Mexican books addressed themes as diverse as those found in European books of the same time, including the creation and organization of the universe, religion, the calendar, astronomy, medicine, history, and genealogy. Although a great many codices were burned or otherwise destroyed during the conquest because they contained images of pagan rites and deities, those that survived were of great interest to Europeans, and reproductions of them were made as early as the sixteenth century. Such reproductions continue to be made to the present day; these copies, as well as the rare originals, remain an inspiration for contemporary artists.
How far back?
2020 | Present