Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-2022

Journal / Book Title

Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl


The 10 page Náhuatl manuscript included at the end of the so-called Codice Chimalpopoca and commonly referred to since 1903 as Leyenda de los soles, “Legend of the Suns,” or the “Manuscript of 1558,” is a fundamental witness to indigenous Nahua- Mexica memories of their own cosmogony and earliest history as they recalled these things some twenty-five-plus years into the colonial era. As supplement to the later Anales de Cuauhtitlan manuscript (ca. 1570-73) which accompanies it in the Chimalpopoca, the 1558 manuscript provides a privileged view of Nahua-Aztec genesis myths, from a Mexica informant. The narrative frame of this retelling makes it clear that by 1558 these memories had become “fables,” tales, fictions--a mythology--but fables of still haunting power and beauty, unforgettable and irrepressible for all their putative demonic origins. I have chosen to call this witness record by the name it gives itself: Tlamachiliztlahtolçaçanilli, “Wisdom Discourse Fables.”


Author's note:

A published version of this article/translation appeared in Estudios de Cultural Náhuatl 28, 1998: 159-96. Due to uncorrected printers’ errors, however, in addition to multiple misspellings the theory of poetic structure put forward in this introduction and illustrated on p. 6 was hopelessly distorted by the failure to reproduce faithfully the illustration in print. Original spellings and the original illustration are reproduced here. Any errors of translation from the Náhuatl remain my responsibility.