Encounter with the Plumed Serpent

Drama and Power in the Heart of Mesoamerica

by Gabina Aurora Pérez Jimenez (Editor)Maarten Jansen (Editor)

"Although the book is written for a more general audience in a clear and lively manner, the stories are not for the casual reader, for the authors are as attentive in showing the reasoning behind their interpretations as they are in telling good stories."

—Bulletin of Latin American History

"Throughout this account of Mixtec history, readers are provided with careful reconstruction of events, abundant documentation, and considered hypotheses. Summing up: Recommended."


The Mixtec, or the people of Ñuu Savi ("Nation of the Rain God"), one of the major civilizations of ancient Mesoamerica, made their home in the highlands of Oaxaca, where they resisted both Aztec military expansion and the Spanish conquest. In Encounter with the Plumed Serpent, two leading scholars present and interpret the sacred histories narrated in the Mixtec codices, the largest surviving collection of pre-Columbian manuscripts in existence. In these screenfold books, ancient painter-historians chronicled the politics of the Mixtec from approximately a.d. 900 to 1521, portraying the royal families, rituals, wars, alliances, and ideology of the times.

By analyzing and cross-referencing the codices, which have been fragmented and dispersed in far-flung archives, the authors attempt to reconstruct Mixtec history. Their synthesis here builds on long examination of the ancient manuscripts. Adding useful interpretation and commentary, Jansen and Perez Jimenez synthesize the large body of surviving documents into the first unified narrative of Mixtec sacred history.

Archaeologists and other scholars as well as readers with an interest in Mesoamerican cultures will find this lavishly illustrated volume a compelling and fascinating history and a major step forward in knowledge of the Mixtec.

Encounter with the Plumed Serpent



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  • publisher
    University Press of Colorado
  • publisher place
    Denver, Colorado
  • rights
  • rights holder
    University Press of Colorado