Amaxac (Mdz39r)

Amaxac (Mdz39r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Amaxac has two main visual elements, a pair of open human legs referring to the crotch (or bifurcation of arroyos, (maxactli), and a flow of water coming down between the legs. The water (atl), or ātl), showing vowel length] is a standard representation of flows of water painted turquoise, with black wavy lines to show some currents and droplets/beads and shells at the tips of the flows or splashes. The knees are bent and the feet are bare. This place name, unusually, does not have a locative suffix.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The term maxactli also has the meaning of bifurcation, and other glyphs for Amaxac (as shown in the Gran Diccionario del Náhuatl) show an upside-down Y that is purely water, with no human legs. While not phonetically relevant here, the location of the water between two legs reminds one of the maxtlati (loincloth). Thus, the emphasis even for this glyph with legs is on the parting of the waters when thinking of the place, but human physiology (even especially female physiology and fertility) do seem to have entered into Nahuas' minds when looking at certain land formations. A river still named Amajac flows across parts of the states of Hidalgo and San Luis Potosí. There is a Santa María Amajac (famous for a hot springs) in the state of Hidalgo, and an Hidalgo Amajac (famous for a Postclassic statue of a young woman) in the state of Veracruz. As Frances Karttunen notes, this place name lacks a locative suffix. The -c from maxac- is not the locative. A -co would have had to be added, but it is not here either. [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Amaxac, pueblo

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

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Parts (compounds or simplex + notation): 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

rivers, ríos, piernas, entrepierna, surcursales de ríos, bifurcaciones de ríos

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"River Branch" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"On the River that Divides into Channels" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 171)

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"Una Bifurcación del Río"

Image Source: 
Image Source, Rights: 

Original manuscript is held by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1; used here with the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)