cihuatl (Mdz38r)

cihuatl (Mdz38r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This complex sign for woman (cihuatl) consists of a profile of a woman's head. She is looking to toward the viewer's right. Her hair is coiled with two (braid?) points appearing over the forehead. The hair color is possibly meant to be brown, but it has a purplish tone. She has a round, turquoise-colored earring or earplug with two concentric circles; the outer band is turquoise and the inner is red. Her eye is wide open. On her cheek are two vertical, parallel black stripes, which look something like face paint or tattoos but really appear to be an added phonetic feature. Her face is painted a flesh tone--light, almost tan or pale yellow.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

This sign doubles as the place name Cihuatlan. The hash marks on her cheek seem to represent the syllable "hua" (possession), providing part of the phonetic value of Cihuatlan, the place name. See the same marking in the glyphs for Acalhuacan and Xicalhuacan, below. This woman's hair is fashioned in the traditional way of town- or city-living adult women. (See also the detail of the hair in our iconography entry for cihuapilli, below.)
The Florentine Codex discusses how girls and women wore their hair. This standard coiffure was called the neaxtlahualli (see Other words referring to this coiffure are aixtlahua and icuiya, both also in the Dictionary.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

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: 
SVG of Glyph: 
SVG Image, Credit: 

Crystal Boulton-Scott made the SVG version.

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 


Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 38 recto,, image 86 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).