FIGURE 5. The ñuu substantive modified with qualifiers. Plain town frieze from page 65 of the Codex Nuttall (qualifier removed). Town of Flames (Achiutla) from page 2 of the Codex Selden. Bent Town (Teozacoalco), from page 4 of the Codex Selden. Town with hand and feathers (Juquila), from page 13 of the Codex Bodley.
FIGURE 6. Lord 4 Jaguar “Nose Wart,” from page 70 of the Codex Nuttall.
Apart from the preceding examples, where the human form is used as a model for indicating spatial relations and as a locus for the expression of social status, the majority of research on the Ñudzavui body in the screenfolds has focused on its ornamentation and posturing. It is on the ornamentation of the body through costume and face paint that the following sections focus.
John Pohl has suggested that the codical Ñudzavui body should be considered analogous to the component signs for hills, rivers, plains, and towns that are used in creating place glyphs (see the “Painted Landscapes” Ñudzavui tutorial).5 One unadorned ñuu (“town,” “place”) frieze, such as the on in Figure 5, looks very much like any other. It is only by “accessorizing” that frieze with additional signs that the scribe is able to specify which town or place is being represented. The depiction of the Ñudzavui body works in a similar way.
Representations of people in the codices are not portraits. Apart from a few exceptions—such as a hunchbacked man in the Codex Colombino-Becker and a wart on the nose of Lord 4 Jaguar in the Codex Nuttall—one painted body looks very much like any other (Figure 6). Indeed, unless individuals are naked it is impossible to differentiate men from women based on visual physiology alone.
In order to distinguish these uniform, sexless bodies, Ñudzavui scribes added costume, hairstyle, and skin decoration to schematic human forms—just as they added “qualifiers” to the standardized representations of hills, rivers, feather mats, or geometric friezes to specify which hill, river, plain, or town was being identified. Images of both people and the landscape were “adorned” to aid the reader. In the pages which follow, you will be introduced to some of the basic functions of costume in the Ñudzavui screenfolds.
Costume and Gender >
5 Pohl 1994a.