Amacoztitlan (Mdz23r)

Amacoztitlan (Mdz23r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph represents the place name, Amacoztitlan. It begins with the "a" of a(tl) or ā(tl), the water that we see at the bottom, running horizontally. Up from that is a yellow [coztic] square representing paper (amatl or āmatl). And at the top are two white, front, upper teeth with a red gum.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The "a" sound is a clue to the rectangle being a piece of fir-bark paper [ama(tl)]. The rectangle is yellow, coztic. So "amacoz-" refers to yellow paper. The ligature "ti" is not shown visually, although sometimes, as Gordon Whittaker notes, the -titlan will be represented by a full mouth of teeth. The teeth [tlan(tli)] serve to trigger the phonetic reading of the locative suffix, -tlan, which Frances Karttunen suggests means "beneath, among" and sometimes "place." The final result, is a reference to a type of tree, "Amacoztic Trees," according to Karttunen, who agrees with the reading by Berdan and Anawalt. Since amatl is a type of paper and comes from a ficus tree, perhaps this Amacoztic tree is more yellow than the usual ficus.

The Real Academia Española describes the "amacóstic" tree as an "árbol de jugo lechoso, con hojas cordadas en la base y fruto globoso (Ficus petiolaris H. B. K.)."

The gloss shows the locative suffix -tla (or -tlah), where things are abundant, but the teeth lead us to the alternate locative suffix -tlan, among. So, we are going with the latter interpretation. It could also be the "Place of the Amacoztic Trees." If so, the yellow and the paper are not literal but play a phonetic role, as does the -tlan.

Complicating the comfort with this analysis is the existence of a "river in the hotlands" known as Amacozatl (also spelled Amacotzatl), which raises the question of a place called Amacoztitlan being near the river in the hotlands. There was also a barrio Amacotzac (near Cohuixco) that may have taken its name from the river.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

amacoztitla/. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Amacoztitlan, pueblo

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: 

paper, paper trees, yellow, water, teeth, tooth, shells, caracoles, amarillo, agua, árboles, dientes, Amacoztitla

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"Among the Amacoztic Trees" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"Among the Amacoztic Trees" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 171)

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"Entre los Árboles Amacostic"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 23 recto,, image 56 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).