Acapolco (Mdz13r)

Acapolco (Mdz13r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Acapolco (also known as Acapulco) consists of turquoise-blue reeds (ācatl) that are being destroyed (poloa) by two human hands. Above and to the left of the plant, which is in pieces, is the tip of an arrow or dart, one that is typically made from the reeds in question. The arrow is yellow and has an eagle feather and a down feather ball attached to it. The hands involved in the act of destroying the plant are colored terracotta. The -co locative suffix is not shown visually

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The element of the reed decorated like a dart or an arrow (mitl) is apparently meant to reassure us that this is an acatl reed plant and not some other kind of plant. The hands, maitl, do not have a phonetic role in the place name. But the hands play a role in destroying the plant, making it come apart, involving the verb poloā, to destroy. The verb poloa provides a phonetic clue that the plant is wretched/worthless/old ("pōl," a negative augmentive and functioning as an adjective), according to Gordon Whittaker (Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 95–96). See also Karttunen's interpretation (on the right).

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

acapulco. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Acapolco, pueblo

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, or by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 
Reading Order, Notes: 

If what first catches the eye is the acatl that is like an arrow, then the order begins with downward. But it might begin with the turquoise-colored plant matter and then the hands, where are rather merged.


reeds, rushes, bamboo, arrows, darts, hands, arms, acatl, tules, carrizos, plantas, cañas

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"Place of Worthless Large Reeds" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"At the Big Old Reeds" (Whittaker, 2021, 95); "In the Place of Destroyed (or Tall) Reeds" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 168.)

Whittaker's Transliteration: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"El Lugar de Cañas Grandes Sin Valor"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood (based on Karttunen's interpretation)

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 13 recto,, image 36 of 188.

Image Source, Rights: 

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, hold the original manuscript, the MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1. This image is published here under the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0).