Cuahuitl (MH639v)

Cuahuitl (MH639v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the compound glyph for the personal name Cuahuitl covers its bases. It includes, on the right, a tree (cuahuitl) trunk, and on the left there is an eagle's (cuauhtli) head in profile, facing toward the right. The tree trunk has stubs from branches that have been removed. The eagle's head is white (like a bald eagle). Its beak is slightly open.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The combining form for both nouns, tree and eagle, is the same: cuauh-, although, as Gordon Whittaker (2021, 90) points out, the vowel length is different, with cuauh- for tree/wood and cuāuh- for eagle. So, these are near homophones in the stems. In this case, the gloss says Cuahuitl, which would easily be represented by a glyph of a tree or some wood. But perhaps the artist was concerned that the reader might read it as ocotl (torch pine) or some other tree. So, he added the eagle to ensure a phonetic reading that would start cuauh-. If so, then the eagle is a phonetic complement which helps ensure the correct reading.

Why a Nahua man would have a name relating to tree or wood may have something to do with the significance of the metaphor, in tetl in cuahuitl (the stone, the wood), which the friars (such as Sahagún, Book 6) described as having an association with knowing secret things.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 


Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood


trees, árboles, wood, madera, eagles, águilas

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


Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 639v, 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: