cilin (Mdz12r)

cilin (Mdz12r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph for small turbinate shells called cilin doubles as the glyph for the place name for Cillan. The glyph consists of a cluster of six shells, all drawn with black and left natural/white. They spiral at one end.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The cilin is a small conch shell. Wimmer's dictionary (2004) notes that it has sometimes been translated as "snail shell." See below, right, for additional varieties of small shells. And note how the shells that splash off water glyphs resemble the cilin. And the cilin seems quite similar to the cuechtli.

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Cultural Content & Iconography: 
Shapes and Perspectives: 

small conch, cilli, cillin, concha pequeña

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

cilin. One of a number of necklaces made up of small shells such as this found in offerings at the Templo Mayor. Photograph by Stephanie Wood, Museo del Templo Mayor, 15 February 2023, with these comments by Robert Haskett.

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

un tipo de concha pequeña

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 12 recto,, image 34 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)