Acolman (Mdz3v)

Acolman (Mdz3v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Acolman has three principal visual features, a shoulder (acolli), and arm and hand (maitl), and a flow of water (atl or ātl) over the arm. The shoulder typically has a white protruding bone. Where the bone protrudes is a yellow edging to the flesh of the arm. The water curls over the arm, splashing off shells and droplets (or precious beads, such as jade beads). The water is painted turquoise and the shells and droplets are white. The water does not have the standard black lines showing currents. The arm is bent at the elbow, and it has a terracotta color. The fingernails of the hand--which is a right hand--are white.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The yellow stripe at the site of the shoulder is somewhat reminiscent of the red and yellow stripes on the shoulder in the place name Acolhuacan in the Codex Mendoza on folio 21 verso. In that example, the water protrudes from the yellow and red lines at the shoulder, but here it is draped over the forearm, instead. The hand also provides the phonetic component of the final syllable of the place name, -ma[n] (or -mān). The water (atl or ātl) spilling over the forearm near the hand (maitl) underlines that the place name begins with an "a." Gordon Whittaker calls "acol" a pseudo-logogram, for in place names it is not literally about a shoulder but provides the phonetics for "a" (water) and "col" (bend, or curve), referring to "the curve of the lakeshore." [See Whittaker, Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 180.] Also according to Whittaker, we should pay attention to the upright hand without an arm attached versus the more horizontal or diagonal arm, which can have readings other than maitl, such as the ma of capture, ana of grab, or poloa of destroy. (Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 104) Here, the hand (maitl) provides the phonetic clue for the locative suffix -mān, "where there are" (from the verb mani).

This place, Acolman, was allegedly given to one of three important Chichimec immigrants in the early settlement of the Valley of Mexico. Xolotl apparently treated them well, giving them lands. Tzontecomatl got Acolman. [See her Stories in Red and Black (2000), 185.]

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

acolma puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Acolman, pueblo (Acolman, today, in the modern State of Mexico)

Gloss 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

Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

hands, arms, shoulders, elbows, bones, water, shells
(flagged for presentation ++)

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"Water-Bend Place"? Karttunen is unsure how to translate this place name. Berdan and Anawalt give "Place Captured by the Acolhua" or "Place Where the Acolhua Extend." Capture would come from the verb ma and extend would come from the verb mani. But -mān is a locative suffix that Karttunen translates as "place." {Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"The Curve of the Lakeshore" (Whittaker, 2021, 180); "Place Captured by the Acolhua" or "Place Where the Acolhua Extend" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 169)

Whittaker's Transliteration: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"La Curva del Río" o "La Ensenada del Lago"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 03 verso,, image 17 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).