chalchihuitl (Mdz43r)

chalchihuitl (Mdz43r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This iconographic example of jade or greenstone [chalchihui(tl)] is actually a string of three jade beads, two longer ones and a short round one in the middle. They are painted in two tones of green, with some mottling or swirling effects.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The coloring and the mottled look in these stones is very similar to the jade stones in the glyphs in this collection. Compare below, right. What the glyphs offer are the red rings, and the black and white decoration (shine?), and the quadripartite elements around the perimeter (which results in a quincunx if one counts the center).

The color and the swirling effect of chalchihuitl may be one of the things that links it to water in the Nahua perception. Remember, the hieroglyph for water has shells and water droplets (which some see as chalchihuitl gems) splashing off of it. Loic Vauzelle notes that "one of the subsidiary names for Chalchiuhtlicue" is Acueye, which means "She Who Has a Water Skirt," and Vauzelle identifies additional relationships between water and jade. ["Clothes with Metaphorical Names and the Representation of Metaphors in the Costumes of the Aztec Gods," in Katarzyna Mikulska and Jerome A. Offner, Indigenous Graphic Communication Systems (Louisville: University Press of Colorado, 2019), esp. p. 158.]

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 


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

Syntax (patterns): 
Cultural Content & Iconography: 

jades, greenstones, green stones, chalchihuites, necklaces, collarea, cozcatl

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


Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 43 recto,, image 96 of 188.

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)