Matrícula de Tributos


The Matrícula de Tributos (‘Register of Tribute’) consists of 16 sheets (‘folios’) of paper made from the bark of the amate tree. Although some of the early folios are heavily damaged, whole sheets measure 29 × 42 centimeters. These pieces of amatl paper were originally painted on only one side, and probably date to before the conquest of Tenochtitlán. Sometime in the colonial period, however, these separate one-sided sheets were glued together. This created the document which exists today, in which each folio has images on the front and the back.

The Matrícula records the geographical extent of the Aztec tribute empire. The first pages show fortified frontier garrisons. The remaining pages’“the majority of the document’“focus on different tribute provinces. Their images depict the place signs of towns from which the Aztecs demanded tribute, and list the tribute items (feathers, warrior costumes, jaguar skins) that were supposedly sent every 80 days to Tenochtitlán.

In addition to the original pictorial glyphs, the Matrícula is also covered with later alphabetic captions. Some, added in the sixteenth century, are in Nahuatl (N). Others, added in the eighteenth century, are in Spanish (E). The Matrícula de Tributos is currently in the National Library of Anthropology in Mexico City. For more information, see the Introduction to the Matrícula de Tributos Nahua tutorial.

c. 1519


29 cm x 42 cm sheets