The History Blog Site” Blog Site Archive” Studying the secrets of Aztec colors


A remarkably detailed pre-Columbian divinatory manuscript at Bologna University Library is being analyzed with the latest imaging techniques to get more information about the structure and usage of its paints, still brilliantly colored today.

” We will use fluorescence and hyperspectral imaging strategies to map the circulation of compositional product (both natural and inorganic) on every page of the manuscript”, states Davide Domenici, Teacher at the University of Bologna and head of the task. “The level of information these strategies have the ability to offer is extraordinary and will shed brand-new light on the pictorial and technological practices established by pre-Columbian artists”. […]

The research study group will use a macro-XRF scanner. This tool utilizes X-rays to analyze the essential structure of the things under examination. When the circulation of chemical aspects is understood, it will be possible to determine the pigments making up those aspects. In this method, scientists will have the ability to recover the circulation of orpiment (a deep-yellow mineral pigment) by searching for arsenic which is the component composing this pigment.

The Codex Cospi will likewise make it through hyperspectral imaging in the noticeable variety. This approach permits to study how noticeable light is soaked up, shown, and given off. Some chemical substances might provide strange light absorption, reflection, emission, and hyperspectral imaging that can map their circulation. In specific, through hyperspectral imaging scientists can map making use of natural dyes such as indigo, which was utilized together with particular clays in the production of the popular Maya Blue.

Among just a lots pre-Columbian texts to make it through the genuine orgy of damage caused on native literature by the Spanish conquerors and their missionary zealots, the Codex Cospi is thought to have actually been lit up at the end of the 15th or start of the 16th century. It has actually remained in Bologna because the 1530s, brought there by Domingo de Betanzos, a Dominican missionary who administered a big area in what is today Mexico for the Spanish crown. The previous hermit went to Mexico in 1526 where he established the Dominican Order in New Spain and took an independent province under the total control of the order. He dispatched a couple of evangelizing objectives, however he invested the majority of time on temporal matters and combating with other clerical potentates over who managed what. He never ever dealt straight with the native individuals he wished to by force transform, however required time from his hectic schedule to firmly insist that they might never ever be priests due to the fact that they were less than reasonable people. He wasn’t even sure they might be baptized, which would appear to be a rather glaring contradiction however there you have it.

The Nahuas’ supposed unreasonable animal natures didn’t avoid them from making a quite enough book that Betanzos considered it deserving to curry favor with Pope Clement VII when he satisfied him in Bologna in 1533 to get more beneficial terms for the Dominican province of Santiago de Mexico. The Pope existed to consult with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who had actually sacked Rome and locked up Clement 5 years previously. Betanzos came bearing superb presents: mantles with multi-colored parrot plumes so artfully woven into the cotton that it had the texture of velour, blue-green mosaic ritualistic masks, a turquoise-handled knife, stone knives with edges sharp as razors and firstly, the Codex Cospi which Bolognese chronicler Leandro Alberti, explained in 1548 as a book painted with figures “that appeared like hieroglyphs by which they comprehend each other as we do by letters.”

The blue-green masks and knives are today part of the collection of the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in Rome. The Codex sat tight in Bologna. Its ownership history is difficult to trace, however the likeliest trajectory is that the Pope didn’t take it to Rome with him and it wound up in the hands of Betanzos’ fellow Dominican Leandro Alberti. A handwritten engraving on the parchment cover of the manuscript records it having actually been talented to Marchese Ferdinando Cospi in 1665. (They got rid of the initial jaguar skin cover to change it with the parchment at this time.) Cospi contributed his large cabinet of interests, codex consisted of, to the city of Bologna in 1657. The manuscript was initially held at the Academy of Science prior to eventually it got in the collection of the Bologna University Library.

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