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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.

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

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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