acatl (Mdz36r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element was carved from the compound glyph for the place name Acamilixtlahuacan. It consists of two, tall, leafy, turquoise-colored reed plants (acatl).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

This element for reed/cane shows classic plants, painted a classic color. Reeds were year signs in the Mesoamerican calendar and day signs in the day count (tonalpohualli). Reeds also had many practical uses, one of which was for making darts and arrows. Thus, some of the attestations of the glyph for acatl will look a lot like darts and arrows acatl) or mitl, with their red and yellow coloration at each end and with added feathers, but without the arrowhead. The added arrowhead is more likely meant to convey mitl, not just acatl. The use of two acatl plants may be intended here as a plural for acatl, or it may be artistic license, given that such plants often grow in multiples.
Wikipedia has published a photo of acatl plants.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss 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, canes, plants, 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 36 recto,, image 82 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).