When these predictions were reasonably accurate, however, the same methodology began to be applied to other areas of human existence. The Babylonians began to use astrology to attempt to predict natural disasters, wars and famines. Over time, astrology became one of the several methods of fortune telling that was used to counsel kings and emperors.
Mayan Zodiac:The Jaguar & The Dog
Proof of these early astrological predictions still survives in a few ancient documents. The oldest currently known astrological document dates to between and B. This document includes astronomical observations and calculations meant to help early astronomers and astrologers forecast solar and lunar eclipses. It also contains early astrological predictions. An early horoscope birth chart also survives. This document was meant to pertain to a single Babylonian individual and is dated for B.
While these early predictions laid the foundation for our modern astrological system, the Babylonians were not the only ones who learned how to chart the stars and planets. The ancient Mayans, Aztecs and Incans from South America developed complex astrological systems that were based on a zodiac of 20 different signs.
These signs were inspired by a mix of both animals and natural phenomenon. The jaguar, ape, dog and turtle appeared in these systems as did the rain and the earthquake. Unfortunately, much of these intricate systems were lost when the civilizations themselves died out.
The Haunting History of Horoscopes
That said, what little knowledge remains of these systems has captured the modern imagination. The complex but fascinatingly accurate Mayan calendar has been a staple of doomsday movies for many years, and there were plenty of people who were concerned about a real life Armageddon occurring when the Mayan long-count calendar restarted in Though there were numerous ancient zodiac systems and horoscope predictions to go with them, the system most people in the Western World today are familiar with is rooted in both Babylon and Greece.
In roughly B.
It was here that he taught astrology and Babylonian culture to the local Greeks. The Greeks were proud of their logical ways of thinking and, therefore, were initially skeptical of astrology. By the first century B. One version used horoscope readings to learn about the past, present and future. The other version focused on using astrology to understand and commune with the divine.
The first known depiction of the system of 12 zodiac signs that so many people are familiar with today is found on a bas-relief from a temple of the Egyptian goddess Hathor. This classical system was then expanded upon and explained in great detail by Ptolemy in his work Tetrabiblos. The Greeks spread their version of astrology and the zodiac as their empire continued to expand, and the Roman Empire did much the same. The pigments of the original Codex Borbonicus , originally produced from such natural substances as wild holly root mustard color , red juniper root and Hematite red , yellow sweet clover yellow , prickly pear cactus fruit tan , and red onion skin green are bright and vivid, with red, green, tan, and gray predominating.
The image seen in this project is a digital copy of a slide which in turn reproduced the original folio with Western inks manufactured in the 19th century. The artmakers have outlined the figures to define their shapes and then colored in each of the resulting outlines.
The image has primarily a utilitarian function inasmuch as it describes the days under the domination of the deity, Xipe Totec, other aspects of the Aztec calendar including 6 of the day months, and signs and portents related to the composing of a possible horoscope of individuals born within the timespan of this part of the Aztec calendar. For this utilitarian reason the folio has a cluttered quality: Aztec religion and science predominate in the design of the folio.
Nevertheless, great attention has been paid to aesthetic details and color in order to make the calendar vivid and visually provocative. In this regard, folio No. Primary for both the Aztec and the Irish illuminators would be the religious content of their work. However, a very important element would also be the aesthetic. However, for the Irish monks, the primary information came from the written words.
There was no alphabet in the Aztec tongue.
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Instead they had glyphs, pictorial representations; but these could be drawn well or crudely depending on the skill of the artmaker. The Codex Borbonicus is one of the finest aesthetic examples of existing Aztec "long papers," due to its detailed drawings and vivid colors.
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Each of the first 20 folios, including No. These 26 cells are distributed in the following manner: 14 7 above and 7 below in a horizontal array occupyng the bottom of the page; and 12 6 external and 6 internal in a vertical array, which are located on the right side of the page. The L-shaped brace of 26 small rectangles reflects the days of the thirteen-day Aztec week ruled by Xipe Totec and 6 of the twenty-day months in the Aztec calendar. The figures themselves are made up mostly of the heiroglyphs of various deities combined with animals, primarily birds but also dogs, a jaguar, a two-headed snake, and a butterfly.
Numerous dots appear usually painted red which are associated with the glyphs and which are used to count the days or months in question.
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All sources agree that Aztec society was highly complex and heirarchical. The priests had a central place in Aztec society and undoubtedly were creators of the content of the Codex Borbonicus which presumably they supervised very closely for content since this manuscript would be used by them on a daily basis.
The primary function of the Codex Borbonicus was to illustrate all of the elements of the Aztec cycle of 52 years and to function also as a yearly calendar. Within years, the Codex Borbonicus divides time into periods of 13 days of which the manuscript contains 20 series and establishes a larger series of 18 "months" of 20 days totalling days. To summarize, the Codex has three components, all of which are related to the Aztec calendar: 1 a calendar of the days of the Aztec cycle; 2 a calendar of the years of the year cycle; and 3 a calendar of the day months of the Aztec calendrical cycle.
The calendrical cycle established by the ancient Aztecs, based on their very high expertise in astronomy and philosophy, made use not only of the solar year which is the exclusive guide of time of Western culture, but of other various components, including the periods of the moon.
The wisdom of Aztec parents (1)
The Aztec calendar as laid out by the Codex Borbonicus ruled both the individual and community life of the ancient Aztecs. The Codex Borbonicus also served to fix the structure of the Aztec calendar and mark, from an astronomical basis, the major dates of both the religious and secular calendar.
The religious and secular calendars differed from each other not only with respect to the significance of specific dates, but with respect to the beginning and ending of the year for each. It should be noted that in the Codex Borbonicus , a good example of pre-Conquest art, the pictures were the text. This contrasts with European books, where a text based on words produced by a written representation of the alphabet conveys the primary information and the illustrations may serve a secondary, even purely decorative role.
Religion, primarily based on cosmography, was the premier element of Aztec society. The Aztecs believed in time cycles equivalent to 52 year periods in Western society. Similarly, they believed that the world had been destroyed four times previously and that they were living in the fourth world but that the signs as interpreted by the Aztec priests were predicting a destruction of that world and the beginning of the fifth era they called it the "fifth sun".
The first of the eras each era lasted for a certain multiple of year cycles was that of the Water Sun, which was destroyed by flood. The second era was the Sun of the Earth, which was destroyed by earthquake. The third era was the Wind Sun, which was destroyed by a giant, leaving only Quetzalcoatl , the feathered serpent as the survivor. The fourth era, coinciding with the Spanish Conquest, was the Sun of Fire, which was predicted to end in a general conflagration.
Aztec religion was also noted for its numerous gods which governed every facet of natural order or disharmony, every function of life, growth, decay, death, and afterlife of the natural order and the supernatural order. They governed not only the developmental patterns or cycles of humans but animals, and plants as well, especially the growth of crops, the principal being maize. Aztec deities just like Egyptian or Greek deities needed to be propitiated with sacrifices or offerings, and honored or recognized in multiple ways, often at specific times within the cyles established by Aztec religion, those cycles having been determined by such natural factors as the appearance and junction of planets and stars, the growth cycle of the foodstuffs essential to Aztec society, or the daily appearance of the sun, moon, and planets in the heavans.
In this society, the Codex Borbonicus occupied a central place because it codified the Aztec calendar of days, months, years, and year time cycles, because it helped divine the future and gave information about dates necessary or appropriate for specific religious or civic activities, and because it was a resource for plotting the horoscopes of individuals.
When the Codex Borbonicus was created, certain aspects of Aztec creativity had come to dedicate itself to themes separated from religion or utilitarian culture. Working within the constraints of decorating a temple, creating a headdress, or illustrating a "long paper," all created for specific religious, military, or other functional purposes, standards of excellence had become well established.
Aztec decoration also enjoyed changing trends and motifs over long periods of time so that archaeologists have used those changes particularly through the analysis of the motifs of pottery to categorize the development of Aztec society and religion. The artmakers wanted the Codex Borbonicus to function as a practical calendar and book for determining horoscopes to be consulted by priests probably on a daily basis. Thus the Codex was manufactured in a very utilitarian fashion for long-standing use, and folded into folios for easy consultation. The images themselves are not unique, but rather, standardized.
They consist primarily of heiroglyphs that were used throughout the Aztec empire for recording religious and civic events, recounting military campaigns, and for commercial transactions or the paying of tribute by the societies that were dominated by the Aztecs. The primary users or patrons of the Codex Borbonicus were the Aztec priests, who in turn undoubtedly supervised the composition and illustration of the book in the first place. The Codex Borbonicus was a sacred book consulted by the priests in order to determine auguries of the future and other calendrical matters.
The Codex Borbonicu s was one of the calendar-books that unified Aztec culture by summarizing its religion and its dominating gods and goddesses by allocating to them a portion of the Aztec time-cyle. The Codex also established a basis for propiating deities, compiling personal horoscopes, advancing astronomical and cosmological research, and undertaking religious, military, civil and other activities under positive conditions as expressed by good auguries. The Codex Borbonicus is the best preserved, most artistically developed and generally agreed to be the most pleasing to Western art specialists of the Aztec calendar-manuscripts that exist today.
These calendar- manuscripts were compiled before the Spanish conquest or in the years immediately after. Other such codexes include the Humboldt , the Mendocino , the Hamy , the Le Tellier , the Nuttall , the Fuenleal , and the Moteczuma a spelling variant of Montezuma that is much closer to the ancient Aztec. The codices themselves mostly have been named by Westerners, usually reflecting the scholar who first analyzed them e. The use of heiroglyphs in these manuscripts is standardized as is the overall design of these manuscripts, which of course reflected the calendrical content.
The Codex Borbonicus has the most vivid colors, but this is probably a reflection of the fact that it is better preserved and perhaps one of the most recent that survived the Conquest.
The Codex Borbonicus is also longer and a bit wider than any of the other existing calendar-manuscripts. The manuscript itself shows no traces of Hispanic or other European influences except for the addition in the 16th century of some Spanish comments scrawled on the manuscript itself often off base to the point that they are worthless , misguidedly intended to help Westerners understand it. As a body of motifs, Aztec design and heiroglyphics has been highly influential on both Mexican and Chicano artists.
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Similarly, some of the mythology of the Aztecs, most notably the myths surrounding Quetzalcoatl , have entered the post-Aztec culture of Mexico, of Chicanos, and even of non-Hispanic Westerners in a significant way. Lawrence's notable novels is The Plumed Serpent
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