Boxer Codex

Format: Ebook


Boxer Codex

A Modern Spanish Transcription & English Translation of 16th-Century Exploration Accounts of East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Transcribed and Annotated by Isaac Jimenez Donoso
Translated by Ma. Luisa Garcia, Carlos Quirino, and Mauro Garcia
With a Foreword by John N. Crossley


In 1947, Iberian colonial maritime scholar Professor Charles R. Boxer acquired a late 16th-century manuscript written by an anonymous sixteenth-century scribe who had compiled several eyewitness accounts of both Spanish and Portuguese expeditions. Through detailed descriptions and lavish illustrations, this manuscript depicted the customs, costumes, and ways of life of the various peoples of East and Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippine Islands.

In the decades since it came to light, an international constellation of scholars the world over has expanded our understanding of this valuable document and given us the clearest depiction of the lives of newly colonized Filipinos and the politics of early modern Asia. As such, Boxer Codex is indispensable in understanding both Iberian and Asian encounters at a pivotal time in world history.

Now this invaluable work is made accessible to a new generation of Filipinos and scholars with this bilingual edition, written in modern Spanish and English. It also marks the beginning of the commemoration of 500 years of Philippine-Spanish encounters from 1521 to 2021. An extensive introduction situates this work in a global context and presents the intertwined histories of academician Charles Boxer and Philippine National Artist Carlos Quirino, whose friendship ignited global interest and passionate study of the codex.


El Códice Boxer configura un singular y animadísimo momento de la magnífica prosa y la intensa producción española o hispánica de ultramar. Por encima de los géneros del informe y la crónica, representa acaso uno de los mejores momentos de la vivacidad naturalista de una cultura expresiva abocada a la universalidad barroca. Se trata de una resolución entrañada ejemplarmente en una tradición, la del Arcipreste de Talavera, ahora deslumbrada ante los nuevos mundos y las posibilidades de una literatura ensayística de materia antropológica.

—Pedro Aullón de Haro, Universidad de Alicante

This book offers a rigorous bilingual edition of the Boxer Codex, an essential work for scholars. At the same time, it opens a great door for the average reader who is invited to enter into a fascinating compilation of stories and images of sixteenth-century East Asia and the Pacific that are full of enigmas, ethnological wealth, and delightful details.

—Manel Ollé, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

No other single documentary source gathers more information about so many indigenous groups of Southeast Asia and the North Pacific during the early days of the Spanish colonization than the Boxer Codex. This treasure of firsthand accounts of detailed and revealing daily life is finally put in perspective, and introduced and annotated for 21st-century readers in its original Spanish along with an English translation. This edition is meant to last as a primary reference for contemporary scholars for many years to come.

—Carlos Madrid, Director, Instituto Cervantes de Manila



Isaac Donoso holds a doctorate in Islamic studies and master’s degrees in humanities and Hispanic philology from the University of Alicante in Spain. He also obtained master’s degrees in Islamic studies from the University of the Philippines and in music from the University of La Rioja, Spain. In 2004 and 2008 he was awarded the research prize Ibn al-Abbar, the most important Spanish award for Islamic studies. His published works include Islamic Far East: Ethnogenesis of Philippine Islam (2013), critical editions of José Rizal’s prose works (2012) and his seminal novels, Noli me tangere (2011) and El filibusterismo (2018). He also edited the volumes, More Islamic than We Admit (2018), More Hispanic than We Admit: Insights into Philippine Cultural History (2008), and Historia cultural de la lengua española en Filipinas: ayer y hoy (2012). He currently teaches at the University of Alicante.


© 2016
448 pages

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