chinamitl (Mdz42r)

chinamitl (Mdz42r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Iczochinanco. It is a horizontal rectangle with texturing (dots and u's), seen from a bird's eye view (from the air, looking down upon it.)

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The term chinamitl was more often associated with the agricultural parcels carved from the lake islands and littoral, what people call "floating gardens," but they were not really floating. The dots and u's seem to suggest agricultural activity; perhaps it is an indication that a parcel that has been planted. The presence of a plant upon it (in the compound from which this was carved) underlines the fertility of the parcel. The u's look something like horseshoe prints, but this iconography reaches back on stone carvings into pre-contact times, before the horse was reintroduced in Mesoamerica. The chinamitl, as represented here, does not differ greatly from the appearance of the tlalli or the milli, both of which were also agricultural parcels. The tlalli will more often have alternating purple and orange segments than the milli typically does (see below, right). We also have a segmented, orange and purple chinamitl from the Codex Mendoza.

Added 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


agricultural parcels, parcelas, agricultura, chinampas

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

chinami(tl), agricultural parcel, entered Spanish as chinampa,

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

irrigated agricultural field

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 42 recto,, image 94 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).