acatl (Mdz42r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph has been carved from the compound glyph for the place name, Acatzinco. The reed (acatl) in this example has one stalk and four branches. It is colored turquoise, or blue-green.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

This element for reed shows a classic plant, 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 and added feathers, but without the arrowhead.
Wikipedia has published a photo of acatl plants.

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 & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


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

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

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

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la caña

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 15 recto,, image 94 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).