For the first time in more than 50 years Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum is displaying ten of the remaining pages from Códice Maya de México, the oldest surviving book of the Americas. Dating to circa 1100 CE, the Mayan Codex is said to have been painted by a single artist, recording the movements of the planet Venus over the course of 584 days.
The Mayan Codex, on special loan from Mexico City’s National Library of Anthropology and History, has rarely been displayed to the public. In a post from the Getty’s website, Timothy Potts, the museum’s director, emphasizes that the Getty is “extremely fortunate and grateful” for the privilege of exhibiting the remaining pages.
The Getty Museum’s intent for the exhibition of the codex is to highlight the sophisticated chronological manner in which the Mayan civilization translated and transcribed the cosmos over 900 years ago.
The four Mayan Codices, including the Codex on display at the Getty, are the only known remaining books that survived Spanish Franciscan Bishop Diego De Landa’s order to burn and destroy all Maya manuscripts and cult images during the Spanish Inquisition of Yucatán in July of 1562. De Landa was determined to eradicate any roots of Maya spirituality, specifically ritualistic human sacrifice, that conflicted with Spain’s goals of mass Indigenous conversion to Roman Catholicism.