atl (MH501v)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for water (atl) is an especially good example of the swirling effect that water can have. In this bird's eye view, what appears to be a centrifugal force sends the water splashing out, each little stream with a droplet at the tip. The whole and the parts all have black lines of current, suggesting movement, too.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The swirl is incomplete because this water was cut away from a compound glyph which had a shoulder intruding upon the water. The potential significance of the swirl is brought home by the glyph for Tetzauh (omen), which seems to suggest that whirlpools (and perhaps whirlwinds, and the like) create a vortex that connects life on earth with a spiritual realm.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood


water, agua, remolinos, swirling

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 501v, World Digital Library,

Image Source, Rights: 

This manuscript is hosted by the Library of Congress and the World Digital Library; used here with the Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SAq 3.0).