amatl (Mdz16r)

amatl (Mdz16r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph stands for the place name Amatlan. It consists of a piece of clean white paper, rolled up, standing vertically, with a tie around the middle. The locative suffix, -tlan, is not visible.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The tie around the paper appears to be a rather generic, all-purpose twisted or braided material (see the bundle of cuezalin feathers below, right). The paper in this glyph appears pristine and ready for the various purposes for which paper was used (codices, stoles, loincloths, paper hair, paper flags, paper wings and other cuttings for ceremonies, paper for splattering with liquid rubber or blood, wrappers for the dead, etc.). If of the pre-contact type, it was made from the bark of a ficus tree. In the tribute lists, such as on folio 23 verso, a roll of paper much like this is said to be paper native to Mexico, and therefore amatl, not European paper. It is difficult to tell how long the paper roll is, but it had to be tied to retain the roll shape. As shown in our online Nahuatl Dictionary, the Florentine Codex speaks of a white piece of paper that was "a finger thick, a fathom wide, and twenty fathoms long." As an example, the Huexotzinco Codex, currently housed in the Library of Congress collections and created in Spanish colonial Mexico in the sixteenth century, was painted on amatl, as was the Codex Boturini, among others. If the bark paper came out dark, it was sometimes whitewashed. Some amatl was colored, as the yellow example in the Codex Mendoza shows.

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 & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


paper, fig bark, papel, amate, ficus

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

papel de amate

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 16 recto,, image 42 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).