Tlacuilos: the artists hidden behind the codices of pre hispanic Mexico

Have you ever wondered who the hell drew the prehispanic codices? Because Instagram did not exist and our ancestors did not document their lives through photos or videos with descriptions like: 'Eating corn #glutenfree' or '#TBT when they conquered us'.

Image: La Neta Noticias
Image: La Neta Noticias

When the empire of Tenochtitlán fell to the hands of the Spanish invaders in 1521, the work of the tlacuilos that were the scribes and painters of the pre-Hispanic era took strength.

These artists elaborated codices that are a fundamental piece for the historical study of the diverse indigenous cultures because they are considered authentic testimonies of the life, dogmas, and events that our predecessors lived.

The Tlacuilos studied at Calmecac and were considered scholars who embodied ideas of exact sciences such as mathematics or medicine, as well as metaphysical beliefs in the funeral rituals in their sketches.

An article of the UNAM came to affirm that these painters were the official historians of their towns, the reason for which they were taken as heretics and persecuted by the Spanish Crown that did not leave them in peace until they used their abilities for their own benefit.

The functions that the Crown imposed on them were to document their lives in the viceroyalty and the genealogies of the nobility.

The works of the tlacuilos were carried out in supports of vegetal or animal origin, like the amate paper, animal skins, and even the maguey.

Also, the main inks used in their works were the black and the red they got from the cochineals.