Coatlan (Mdz23r)

Coatlan (Mdz23r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Coatlan consists of most of a curving snake's (coatl) body (brown, facing to yellow and then a white belly) in profile, facing to the viewer's right. Its tongue is protruding, red at the base and yellow where it forks. A bit of a rattler is visible on the left end of the snake, and it is painted a turquoise color. Below the snake are two white, upper, front teeth (tlantli) with red gums. They provide the phonetic element for the locative suffix -tlan (place).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

It interesting that the artist did not choose here to tuck the teeth up into the curve in the snake's body as we see on the compound glyphs for Coatitlan and Chontal Coatlan. Perhaps that closer placement was intending to convey the ligature (-ti-). As is visible in many compound glyphs, the postposition -titlan is often presented differently (such as the full set of teeth, compared with the two front teeth for -tlan).

Berdan and Anawalt mention that Clark (1938 2:28) notes that the town of Coatlan had "a large sculpture of a snake" in the square. There are towns called Coatlan in the states of Morelos and Oaxaca, at minimum.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

coatlan . puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Coatlan, pueblo

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: 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

snakes, serpents, serpientes, dientes

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

-tlan (locative suffix), place,

Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"Snake Place" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"Where There are Many Snakes" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 179)

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 23 recto,, image 56 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).