THE DRESDEN CODEX
We first learn of the
Dresden Codex when we hear that Johann Christian Götze,
Director of the Royal Library at Dresden, obtained the codex
from the private owner in Vienna in 1739.
In 1744, Götze gave it
to the Royal Library, where it still resides (The library's current
name is the Sächsische Landesbibliothek).
But not all has been
"smooth sailing" for the Dresden; it sustained heavy water damage
during the Dresden Fire Storms of WWII. Therefore, pre-WWII
facsimiles are still very informative for study purposes.
The following list
includes some of the more interesting copies and facsimiles that
have been produced:
Alexander von Humboldt published "Vues des Cordillčres".
This work includes pp. 47, 48, 50, 51, 52 of the Dresden in
a beautiful, though somewhat not–completely–accurate, color
rendition. I’ve seen copies of this book on sale for as much
as $93,000, and for as little as $25,000, so it is a bit
pricey, and quite a collector's item.
In 1825 or 1826,
an Italian, Agostino Aglio, made a tracing of the
Dresden Codex for Lord Kingsborough. It was
uncolored, but was used in Lord Kingsborough's "Antiquities
of México", published in 9 volumes (the last two
posthumously; Kingsborough died of typhus in debtor's
prison--the debt was accrued at least partly from these
Kingsborough had Aglio’s rendition of the Dresden prepared
in color for Volume III, in 1830 or 1831. Apparently it was
colored by hand--for not all of the same-numbered pages from
the different copies are identical (Justin Kerr's
Photographs of the Kingsborough are available below).
In 1880, and
again in 1892, Ernst Förstemann published the
Dresden, in photochromolithographic editions, with
perhaps only 60 copies produced in each edition (Gates,
booklet with "The Dresden Codex", 1932). These have, of
course, become extremely rare, and I have never seen an 1880
or 1892 copy for sale.
late Linda Schele attempted to have her copy, a gift from
Floyd Lounsbury, become readily available. She not only
provided a copy of Förstemann’s Dresden to FAMSI, but
also to Cholsamaj Press, in Guatemala. Cholsamaj
published facsimile versions that may still be available by
J. Eric Thompson leaned heavily on photos of the
Förstemann when making his rendition of the Dresden
(published in "A Commentary on the Dresden Codex",
Philadelphia, 1972). Lips and Deckert also made their
rendition from the Förstemann editions (1962, Berlin).
Andreas Fuls has
made available a CD (for $20 as of April, 2002) of
Förstemann's personal copy of the Förstemann, that is now
housed in the Ibero-American Institute of Berlin.
In 1959, Ian
Graham visited Dresden and made slides of the Dresden
Codex (personal communication: Oct 17, 1998).
collection of slides, I have seen only one print: a
beautiful partial of Dresden page 49, in a book entitled
"Vanished Civilizations of the World" (editor: Edward Bacon,
Thames and Hudson, McGraw-Hill, 1963).
William E. Gates published a facsimile rendition of the
Dresden. It is very pleasing to the eye, colorful, and uses
his own type-font for all the glyphs. I can't say that it is
the most accurate rendition, but it is fun to look at.
He said he
produced 75 copies (Gates, booklet with "The Dresden Codex",
1932), but I have noticed some unnumbered copies of this
edition that may have been put together from extra printed
sheets that were picked up by graduate students some time
later (personal communication of March or April 1997 with
Jeremiah F. Epstein, who was a professor in the Department
of Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin).
In 1975, the
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, of Graz, Austria,
printed a facsimile from color photos of the WWII-damaged
original, with commentary by Helmet Deckert and
Ferdinand Anders. It is remarkably good, and the worst
of the damaged pages have been reproduced again from
Förstemann in a separate accompanying booklet.
It, along with
its Chiapas copy (within the book of Thomas A. Lee, Jr.,
"Los Códices Mayas", 1985) have been used as important
stand-bys by Mayanists since their publications.
Because the Dresden had
fallen apart in previous years, later Europeans assigned to it page
numbers that, upon later studying of the codex, proved to be
The page numbers were
kept pretty much the same however, with the understanding that the
order of the pages within the codex was probably 1-24, 46-74, and
The Förstemann version
of the Dresden Codex
version of the Dresden Codex
The Dresden Codex
The Dresden Codex Venus
The Mars Beast Table