acatl (Mdz23r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for acatl) has been carved from a compound glyph for the place name Acatl Icpac. The principal feature is a vertical, yellow reed (acatl), with one turquoise-blue leaf on either side (also acatl). In the middle, parallel with the reed and partially obscuring it, is a brown eagle wing feather and a smaller, white, down feather.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The feather decorations visible on this glyph are typically associated with the reed that has been made into an arrow or dart. For other examples, see Acapan, in our attestations in this record, where the fuller reed lies horizontally, and the vertical one (inside the water channel, the apantli) again has the feathers. Besides being a plant that was prevalent in the landscape, acatl was a day sign and a year sign in the calendar.

Added 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 & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

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

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 

aca(tl), reed, cane, reed-arrow, reed-dart,

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la caña, o la flecha

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 23 recto,, image 56 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).