Chichihualtatacallan (Mdz15v)

Chichihualtatacallan (Mdz15v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Chichitatacallan has two principal elements. The most prominent element consists of a woman's breasts (chichihualli), painted yellow, with turquoise-colored nipples, and red dots clustered above the nipples. The arms, also painted yellow, are framing the breasts. The "Chichi-" start to the place name recalls the verb chichi, to breastfeed]. The red scratches or perforations on the breast (which appear as red dos) may come from the verb tatacalo (a passive form of tataca), to be scratched or perforated). This might provide the final "l" before the locative suffix -tlan, which changes to "ll.". Frances Karttunen gives "tatacalō" as "altern. nonact." in her An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992), 215. The locative suffix (-tlan) or possibly (-tla or tlah, with the glottal stop), is not show visually. The gloss suggests -lla, but perhaps the final "n" was inadvertently omitted.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The visual of the breasts suggests a rash and possibly mastitis, which may be why Peñafiel referred to nodrizas (wet nurses), who are possibly prone to mastitis. This was suggested in a personal communication from Magnus Pharao Hansen as part of a larger discussion of the glyph launched by León García-Garagarza on May 9, 2021 on Facebook. León notes that Angel Palerm and Isabel Truesdell Kelly (The Tajin Totonac: History, subsistence, shelter and technology, Washington DC: The Smithsonian, 1952) suggested that the contemporary place name is Santa Marta Chichihualtepec. León suggests a translation, "Lugar donde abundan las tetas agujeradas con sarpullidos" ("Place of Abundant Perforated Breasts with Rashes"). He notes the local choice of the patron saint of St. Martha may have been linked a teocihuatl (goddess). Further, he proposes that the name change of the altepetl may suggest a healing of the condition. Tatiana Vizcaína reminds us that breasts can be equated with mountains. I would add that the turquoise color of the nipples point to the site of the emergence of the precious liquid (breast milk), given that the term atl) (usually, water) can be extended to refer to any number of liquids, and turquoise is the color typically given to atl) in the Codex Mendoza. The polychrome version of the stone carving of Chalchitlicue has highlighted her nipples as turquoise, too, so there may be a pattern there. Finally, Magnus Pharao Hansen suggests that this unusual place name could be an awkward effort to translate a topynym in one of the Oaxacan languages. According to Berdan and Anawalt (1992, vol. 1, 177), the authors Kelly and Palerm (1952, 311) "tentatively locate this town in southern Oaxaca." They add that Clark (1938, 2:17) recalled the "Otomí custom of decorating women's arms and breasts by painting them and then cutting into them with a knife."

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

chichihualtatacala. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Chichihualtatacallan, pueblo

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, or by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 
Other Cultural Influences: 

breasts, breastmilk, sores, perforations, rashes

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

chichihual(li), breast(s),
tataca, to dig or perforate,
tatacal(oa), to make small holes,
-tlan (locative suffix), place,
-tla (locative suffix), place of abundance of,

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"Place Where Breasts are Punctured" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 177); "Place of Abundant Perforated Breasts with Rashes" (León García-Garagarza, Facebook post)

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"Lugar donde abundan las tetas agujeradas con sarpullidos"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

León García-Garagarza

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 15 verso,, image 41 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).