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Oracles of the Other World: Using Ethnography to Study Depictions of Human Remains in Mexican Precolonial Codices

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 EthnoCODICES project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the EthnoCODICES project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "EthnoCODICES" about.

oracular    chronicles    dr    forms    dead    ritual    indigenous    skulls    metaphoric    books    construction    connotations    university    abundant    ceremonies    intriguingly    semiotic    examination    base    mind    explore    precolonial    pertaining    first    daykeepers    relation    bodies    visual    codex    mikulska    mortality    investigates    iconological    group    secondly    interpreting    laud    entails    mexican    loaded    ancestorhood    sessions    prognostications    discourses    answer    inquiry    dismembered    diviners    conducting    combines    cult    deepen    community    world    character    paying    empirical    communication    social    manuals    american    depicted    ancestors    special    days    ethnographic    depictions    carry    living    divinatory    emphasis    mixe    profound    answering    south    culture    spanish    mexico    iberian    document    factual    deities    hearts    cognitive    data    spiritual    sacrifices    borgia    frequently    colonial    ethnography    analyze    ethno    skeletons    question    methodological    perspective    human    relationships    death    images    violence    warsaw    codices    metaphor    rituals    literal    ibero    reading    limbs    prescriptions    ancient    katarzyna    me   

Project "EthnoCODICES" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 00 927

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Poland [PL]
 Total cost 146˙462 €
 EC max contribution 146˙462 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2017
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-ST
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-09-01   to  2020-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIWERSYTET WARSZAWSKI PL (WARSZAWA) coordinator 146˙462.00


 Project objective

This project investigates the depictions of human remains on Mexican precolonial codices, especially those of the so-called Borgia Group, which were used by daykeepers and diviners as manuals in prognostications and ritual prescriptions. My aim is to explore a different reading of these images in relation to the oracular character of these books, with special focus on Codex Laud due to its intriguingly abundant depictions of human limbs, hearts, skulls, skeletons and deities of death. To achieve this, I will carry out a two-step methodological approach. First, I will develop an ethno-iconological research base, which entails conducting ethnography; in this case, in an indigenous Mixe community, in the south of Mexico. I will document the various forms of social and spiritual relationships between the living and the dead, paying special interest to the role of ancestors in divinatory sessions and the discourses held during rituals, such as those held during the Days of the Dead ceremonies. Secondly, with this new empirical data, I will analyze the images of human remains depicted on codices by applying the methods recently developed by Dr. Katarzyna Mikulska at the Institute of Iberian and Ibero-American Studies, in the University of Warsaw. Her novel approach combines the ethnographic data with a cognitive and semiotic perspective, and a profound examination of metaphor construction. With all of this in mind, my specific aim is to answer the following inquiry: are there other factual resources for interpreting the meaning of human remains as a means of metaphoric communication pertaining to the cult and world of ancestors rather than the literal reading of dismembered human bodies? Answering this question will enable me to deepen the understanding of the visual culture around mortality and ancestorhood in ancient Mexico, which is frequently loaded with connotations of violence and emphasis of human sacrifices as described in Spanish colonial chronicles.

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The information about "ETHNOCODICES" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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