chinamitl (Mdz46r)

chinamitl (Mdz46r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Chinantlan. We have left the maize plant, although the chinamitl (agricultural parcel, or chinampa in contemporary Mexican Spanish), could appear without the plant. Here the chinamitl has purple and orange-colored segmentation, much like the milli and often the tlalli, other names for agricultural parcels. The green-leafy maize plant is both flowering and has produced maize or corn cobs of different colors. The flowers are yellow. Interestingly, the parcel is seen from a bird's eye view, but the maize plant is shown as an elevation view.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The chinamitl was 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 meant to appear as a parcel that has been planted. 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, often segmented and multi-colored. Milli entered Spanish as milpa. But a glyph for chinamitl, below, also shows how the emphasis can be placed on the construction that held the mud pulled up from the lake bottom to enrich agricultural parcels.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


maize, maíz, corn, agricultura, chinampas

Museum & Rare Book Comparisons: 
Museum/Rare Book Notes: 

chinamitl. This is a modeler's concept of what a chinamitl would have looked like during the Mexica era in the Basin of Mexico. Photograph by Stephanie Wood, Museo del Templo Mayor, 15 February 2023, with these comments by Robert Haskett.

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 


Whittaker's Transliteration: 

Mexico City

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 46 recto,, image 102 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).