Chalco (Mdz41r)

Chalco (Mdz41r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph of a chalchihui(tl) (precious green stone or local jade) also doubles as the glyph for the place name, Chalco. The greenstone has four small circles (with a small concentric circle in the center of each one) around the outermost of a series of concentric circles. The outer ring is white with black line drawings of a pattern, somewhat u-shaped. Inside that is a ring painted red. The innermost circle is painted green using two tones that give it a mottled look.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The glyphs representing Chalco vary somewhat, and the chalchihuitl can be combined with the compound glyph for Atenco (see below, right). The reason for the red ring is unclear. The external patterns, however, may have some purpose such as to convey shine and/or preciosity. Note some other examples of possible resplendence in such things as turquoise stones, mirrors, or the sun, below right. The green center appears to represent most closely the greenstone that provides the name of chalchihui(tl). The mottled effect, using two shades of green, may intend to convey something of the shape or variable color of the stone. Local jade was highly prized for its color, like water, which is essential for life. Greenstones were tribute items that were provided by the commoners to the rulers. Precious greenstones were also spoken of as metaphors for children. That, said, the green stone was only used in this compound glyph to call forth the phonetic "chal," meaning "in the hollow." The place does not really have a significance relating to the precious stone.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

chalco. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Chaco, 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

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Xitlali Torres and Stephanie Wood


jades, greenstones, chalchihuites

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

Codex Mendoza, folio 41 recto,, image 92 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)