amatl (Mdz24v)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element has been digitally carved from the compound sign for the place name, Itzamatitlan. It is a rolled piece of white paper (amatl) with a tie around the middle.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

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 was tied to retain the roll shape and protect it until it was ready for use. 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

Shapes and Perspectives: 


Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el papel de amate

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 24 verso,, image 59 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).