acayetl (Mdz42r)

acayetl (Mdz42r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This iconographic supportive material comes from the tribute lists in the Codex Mendoza. It appears to be a bamboo-like cane (acayetl) that has been smeared with something black or dipped in a black liquid. Smoking tubes called acayetl, acacuahuitl, or yetlalli, were stuffed with tobacco and sometimes liquid ambar and/or aromatic herbs, according to Berdan and Anawalt (Codex Mendoza, 1992, v. 2, 218).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

When burned, this stick would have had an aroma that European observers sometimes called perfume. The air would fill with smoke. The word acayetl) is a compound made from acatl) (reed) and iyetl) (incense). See Book II, folio 26v of the Florentine Codex for examples of smoking tubes in use. Iyetl and acayetl are a challenge to distinguish visually. In his translations of the Cantares, John Bierhorst (Ballads of the Lords of New Spain, 2010, 24, note 117) calls iyetl "smoking tubes" and acayetl "reed incense."

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

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


reeds, tules, carrizos, plants, arrows, darts

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el palo de incienso, o la caña de sahumerio

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 42 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).