cahualli (Mdz13v)

cahualli (Mdz13v)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex sign doubles as the place name Cahuallan. The widow (cahualli) sits with her knees folded under her and with her knees pointed to the viewer's right. Her head is also in profile, facing to the viewer's left. The rest of her body faces frontally toward the viewer. This results in a kind of contortion. Her hands come together in front of her body. Her huipilli (blouse) and cueitl (skirt) are both white, but the huipil has a rectangle over her chest. Her skin tone is a tan color. She has turquoise blue tear drops coming from the one eye the viewer can see.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The tears have a semantic value, suggesting that this is not just a woman but a widow or abandoned woman (and sad, for this reason). The way her body is contorted and the awkward way her hands come together may also reinforce the cahualli (widow) reading. The clothing and sitting posture are clues to the gender of this person (female). For images of both men and women crying, see the Florentine Codex, Book I, folio 32 verso. The rectangle over the chest of the woman has a horizontal line and other small markings that are indicative of an intentional design that likely had an imbedded meaning.

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, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

women, widows, mujeres, viudas

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

cahual(li), widow or abandoned spouse,

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la viuda

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 13 verso,, image 37 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).