acatl (Mdz2v)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element, reed (acatl), has been carved from the compound glyph for the personal name, Acamapichtli (also seen as Acamapich). This atomized glyph shows two or three yellow reeds with red coloring at both ends. The reeds also have two eagle wing feathers (brown) and two white down feathers. We have edited the image to remove the hand that was holding the reeds, for the hand represented another phonetic element (the -ma- in the compound glyph).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

This element for acatl), reed or cane, seemingly involves two reed-based arrows without points. Arrows or darts and reeds have a strong visual overlap, as arrows and darts must have been made of reeds. Arrows or darts typically had feather decorations such as we see here. We will also include an example of a reed/cane (yellow, lying horizontally in this case). See below, right. Incidentally, besides being a plant that was prevalent in the landscape, acatl was a year sign in the calendar, and the reed sign in the calendar usually has feathers. Finally, the reed that stands vertically in the fire drilling implement, the mamalhuaztli (also shown below, right), looks much like the reed that appears in the calendrical sign.

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, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

SVG of Glyph: 
SVG Image, Credit: 

Ed Trager


arrow, flecha, arrows, flechas, reeds, canes, cañas, carrizo, 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: 
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).