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Aztec Cradleboard Figurine and Drawing [Object]


The ceramic figurine of an infant in a cradle (also called a cradleboard) was created by the Nahua, or Aztec people of Mexico, between 1350 and 1521 CE. It shows how infants were kept bound in a cradle or carried on a cradleboard, a practice that was common among the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The figurine also shows how the baby would have been bound or swaddled in the cradle. The drawing further illuminates the way in which the cradle was used, and may illustrate a ceremony of placing the child in the cradle that took place some days after the birth of the child. The illustration is from the work collected in the Nahua language by Bernardino de Sahagún (1500-1590 CE), a Church official sent by the Spanish to Mexico in 1529. Sahagún collected information about Aztec language, rituals, values, and childrearing from a select group of native informants. It is the only source of its kind of Aztec customs and modes of thought. Also compiled by Sahagún was a narrative and representations of the Spanish conquest. The work was sent to Spain where it was not published until 1829 or translated until 1831. It was called The Florentine Codex because the manuscript was found in that city; it had been suppressed in Spain after the death of Sahagún.


Ceramic figurine of a baby and cradleboard, Aztec, circa AD 1350–1521), Mexico The Field Museum, 2475-241028, © 2007 The Field Museum, A114597_04Bd, Photographer John Weinstein; FM_ 241028; drawing from Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590) (Anderson, Arthur J. O., and Charles E. Dibble, translators). The Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, Book 6: Rhetoric and Moral Philosophy. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1982. Annotated by Susan Douglass.

How to Cite This Source

"Aztec Cradleboard Figurine and Drawing [Object]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #432, (accessed August 10, 2021).