acatl (Mdz13r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Acatepec. The yellow portion represents the reed (acatl). The rest involves two feathers, one grayish brown wing feather, which was probably from an eagle, and one round and white down feather.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

We see both turquoise colored plants representing reeds (acatl) and parts of arrows (mitl) serving as reeds. The use of an arrow to represent the phonetic sound -aca (from acatl) may be owing to the use of reeds for arrow shafts. We have yet to determine why sometimes a tlacuilo would paint the turquoise plant and other times paint an arrow. Besides being a plant that was prevalent in the landscape, acatl was a year sign in the calendar. Finally, the fire-drilling implement standing upright in the glyph for the mamalhuaztli looks very much like the reed that is used for the calendrical symbol for acatl. See below, right.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

xiuhpohualli, año, turquesa, xihuitl

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la caña, o la flecha

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

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).