acatl (Mdz20r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for reed (acatl) has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Acapan. It is a yellow, sectioned, horizontal reed, with an appearance much like bamboo or carrizo (in Spanish). The original compound glyph from which this one was carved also includes a small, upright piece of an arrow made from a reed and decorated with feathers, reinforcing the reading of acatl.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Apparently, reed stalks (acatl) were used as shafts for arrows and darts. This is one of several elements that were employed to represent the reeds, including turquoise-colored plants (acatl) and arrows (mitl) that were decorated with feathers. Besides being a plant that was prevalent in the landscape, acatl was a year sign in the calendar. The small acatl-arrow sitting in the apantli (waterway) is typical of the way acatl appears in calendar dates in the Codex Mendoza.

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


reeds, tules, carrizos, plants, arrows, darts, xiuhpohualli, año, turquesa, xihuitl

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


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la caña

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 20 recto,, image 50 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).