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Article

Olle Granath

(b São Paulo, Dec 28, 1928; d Stockholm, Nov 8, 1976).

Swedish painter. Following a childhood spent in Brazil, he moved to Sweden in 1939. He studied archaeology and the history of art, specializing in pre-Columbian manuscripts, and he showed an interest in the theatre. In the early 1950s he worked as a journalist, wrote plays and poems and in 1952 began to paint his first composite pictures. In 1953 Fahlström published a manifesto, Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Thuthda Bthuthdy: Manifesto for Concrete Poetry (Stockholm), which manipulates language irrespective of the meanings of words. He saw an unexploited wealth, both sensual and intellectual, in its phonetic materials and in the distortions that occur when letters are transposed. In the following years he worked mainly on a large painting entitled Ade-Ledic-Nander II (oil, 1955–7; Stockholm, Mod. Mus.), where little hieroglyphic signs are arranged in major, antagonistic groups. Next, he appropriated images from such comic strips as Krazy Kat (for illustration see Comic-strip art...

Article

Elizabeth Hill Boone

Scholars of Pre-Columbian and early colonial Latin America use the term “codex” to identify a manuscript book with a high pictorial content painted in the indigenous pre-conquest tradition. Pre-Columbian codices are entirely pictorial and hieroglyphic, but those created after the conquest in the early colonial period often also have alphabetic texts to explain and complement the paintings. In both, the pictorial content remains fundamental. This use of the term codex differs from that of the European manuscript tradition, in which codex is usually used to describe a book constructed of sheets of paper, papyrus, parchment, or vellum that are stacked and bound together along one edge. Such European codices evolved from the continuous scrolls of antiquity.

Only in Mesoamerica (the area of modern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras) did thinkers and record-keepers create painted books to record and preserve information. The Inka and their neighbors did not fashion such painted books but instead preserved information in knotted string records (...

Article

Elizabeth Hill Boone and Nelly Gutiérrez Solana

See also Pre-Columbian Codices.

Writing and a strong tradition of manuscript painting flourished in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and continued after the Spanish conquest through most of the 16th century. The Mesoamerican manuscript tradition stood in contrast to the European tradition of alphabetic writing in books, for it was highly pictorial. Mesoamerican intellectuals and record keepers developed several different graphic systems to record both secular and religious knowledge, which generally functioned as specialized means of communication between rulers, high governmental officials, and priests. Secular manuscripts included histories, genealogies, tax and tribute accounts, and maps; religious codices included cosmological and mythical histories, manuals for divination and the performance of rituals, and records of astronomical and calendrical cycles. Manuscripts were kept in special repositories (Nahuatl amoxcalli) by the Aztecs and, among the Maya, were sometimes buried with rulers.

Evidence of pictorial writing is found as early as c. 1000 BCE on stone monuments, but the earliest painted books to have survived are in the form of codex fragments found in Maya tombs ...