Seen as proof of idolatry and subsequently burned by the Spanish, most pre-Hispanic Aztec painted manuscripts did not survive the Conquest period. As one of the few surviving examples of indigenous books of beliefs and ceremonies, The Codex Borgia is an invaluable resource to understand the ancient Americas. Once owned by and named after the Cardinal Borgia of Renaissance Italy, the original manuscript is now kept in the Vatican Library.
The hand-painted reproduction on artisan-made bark paper presented at the Visual Arts Center is the result of a decades-long project by artist Richard Lee Gutherie with Gisele Diaz and Alan Rodgers. The original manuscript, inaccessible for many years until recent digitization, is known to most scholars and Mesoamerican enthusiasts through a 1993 Dover edition reproduction by the same team. These never-before-exhibited folios, all 76 pages of The Codex Borgia, debut at the Visual Art Center in conjunction with the UT Austin Mesoamerica Meetings conference.