The Borgia Codex and Eclipses

On pages 58 to 60 of the Borgia Mexican codex (from southern Mexico, perhaps Tlaxcalla or the Tehuacan valley) appear a series of 25 deities in pairs, accompanied by the numbers 2 to 26. The major commentary on this codex is by Edward Seler (1904/1980). Seler identifies the female figure in all these depictions as a version of the Moon goddess, Xochiquetzal. The scenes can be considered analogous to Mayan representations of the marriages of the Moon goddess. Occasionally, other figures appear with these pairs. Above each picture appears a small representation, usually of a half-Sun disk. These are shown in Figure 12.15.

Those shown with even numbers are usually half-covered with stars, whereas those with odd numbers do not show this. Seler (1904/1980) regards this as merely an alternation between day and night with deities associated both with hours of the day and night and with a series of 12 days and 13 nights, from which he derives a system of 26 hours, otherwise completely unattested. Seler quotes from Leon y Gama a statement that the trecenas represent the nightly movements of the Moon "from its first appearance after conjunction to a few days after full moon" (called Ixtozoliztli) "when it may be seen at night on the horizon," and a second period (called Cochiliztli) "when it may be seen in the day." How a 13-day period beginning with 1st visibility can extend a few days after full Moon is not clear to us, nor do we see how continuous periods of 13 days can be related to any genuine lunar phenomena. Seler, however, uses this passage to provide a deeper interpretation of the 25 pairs as a series of 26 nights. Alternatively, Mathews (private communication to Kelley 1991) has suggested that the numbers 2 to 26 refer to repetitions of the 260-day tonalpohualli, one of which, divided into 20 trecenas (or 13-day periods), occurs on pages 61-70 (which precede pages 58-60 due to the incorrect assumption that the codex was read from left to right) of the Borgia codex and contains two scenes that contain half-darkened Sun figures. It hardly seems likely, as Seler supposed, that two particular nightfalls would be especially marked in such a context. Seler also argued that the structure implies 12 pairs of day and night, and an isolated 13th night, and that the importance of that 13th night was such

Table 12.13. Vienna codex dates, read as real-time dates.



Era count

Day number

J. year

Mixtee year

Mixtee day

0 0

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