Cipac (MH778r)

Cipac (MH778r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the simplex glyph for the personal name, Cipac ("Crocodile"), is attested here as a man's name. The glyph shows an S-shape that is covered with what are like nine, long, sharp thorns or flint knives.

See the Borgia Codex, Plate 21, for a representation of the animal covered with the red and white knife called the tecpatl. Another Borgia image, Plate 27, of this animal also has flint knives on its body. Mexicolore publishes both of these images.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

This simplex glyph it a very stylized representation of crocodile, which can turn and twist, has sharp teeth, and has barbs on its skin. Is it so stylized that is conveys a cosmic message? Several Cipac glyphs have crocodilian features, but a couple are more abstract, perhaps cosmic. The cosmic perceptions of reptiles by Nahuas of the Sierra Norte of Puebla enter into a free, online study by Pierre Beaucage (et al), "Les reptiles dans les savoirs et l’imaginaire des Nahuas/Maseualmej de la Sierra Norte de Puebla (Mexique)," Recherches amérindiennes au Québec 49:3 (December 2020):17-28.

Cipactli is a day name in the religious divinatory calendar of 260 days, the tonalpohualli. It lacks the companion number (from 1 to 13) that would have accompanied the day name in the calendar. Colonial edicts to stop using the tonalpohualli as a source for names resulted in the dropping of the companion numbers, perhaps as a stopgap measure to reduce the sacred nature of the name. See Norma Angélica Castilla Palma, "Las huellas del oficio y lo sagrado en los nombres nahuas de familias y barrios de Cholula," Dimensión Antropológica v. 65 (sept.-dic. 2015), 186. Castilla also mentions that naming babies after deities was also outlawed. And the crocodile was a double for a the divine force or deity, Tonacatecuhtli, creator of the universe and the human race, this glyph could represent that divine force instead of the crocodile. So, perhaps this stylized version is meant to disguise the crocodilian monster somewhat. See Anastasia Kalyuta's article in Mexicolore.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood


animales, cocodrilos, caimanes, nombres de días, calendarios, tonalpohualli, nombres de hombres

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

cipac(tli), crocodile, caiman, alligator,

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 


Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 778r, World Digital Library,

Image Source, Rights: 

This manuscript is hosted by the Library of Congress and the World Digital Library; used here with the Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SAq 3.0).

Historical Contextualizing Image: