atl (Mdz32r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element has been carved from the compound glyph for the place name, Ameyalco. This representation of water (atl), colored turquoise with some underlying black lines of varying thickness to indicate the currents, pours straight downward. It has alternating white water droplets/beads, three of them, and two white turbinate shells (perhaps cuechtli) splashing off of it.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

In the compound glyph from which this derives, the flow of water emerges from a simple semi-circle (just a black line), which represents a natural spring (ameyalli), and the compound glyph represents the place name for the pueblo of Ameyalco. As with many water signs, here we see alternating droplets (or chalchihuitl, round jade stones) and turbinate-shaped shells coming off the stream, as though they are splashes with treasures at the tips. Turbinate shells are shown in more detailed line drawings here.

Added 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


water, shells

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


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el agua

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 32 recto,, image 74 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).