Dress was a marker of identity to the peoples of Mesoamerica before the Spanish invasion. To the Aztecs, the wearing of appropriate clothing was strictly controlled by both custom and law. For the Maya, dress took both the ephemeral nature of objects of adornment and a more permanent role as an item of display in imagery and glyphic texts. These five books discuss how the early Indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica shared a variety of practices and aesthetic interests. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, dress was an important tool for communicating political and social status and power, gender and sexuality, as well as ethnic, regional, and religious identities.

Close-up of an illustrated page of an Aztec codex, showing one person approaching another person of higher rank, who appears seated and wearing an elaborate blue tunic

The Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II awarding high status clothing to successful warriors. In Bernardino de Sahagún, “Historia General de las cosas de Nueva España,” Vol. 2, 1577, fol. 306v. Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, mss.bmlonline.it.⁠