cuicani (FCbk1p47)

cuicani (FCbk1p47)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This iconographic example of singers (cuicanimeh, plural of cuicani) comes from the Florentine Codex, Book 1, page 47, of the World Digital Library edition. It is meant to provide comparative material for the use of speech scrolls for singing, the hitting of the huehuetl or huēhuētl (upright drum) with the hands, and the striking of the teponaztli (horizontal drum) with drumsticks. There may be a jaguar pelt around the top of the huehuetl. Also, one can just barely make out the edge of the stepped cutout (a zigzag shape) on the side of the wooden cylinder that comprises the huehuetl. The light orange coloring of the huehuetl may indicate that it is wooden, but the teponaztli is a darker brown, and it is most certainly wooden. It has cutouts along the top for striking different tones We also see some feathers in the hair of more than one singer, and the nearest one has a red tie (leather?) holding the feathers onto his head. They wear white capes tied at the shoulder, they sit with their knees up, and their feet are bare, and at least one sits on a handwoven mat (petlatl). All the singers and musicians are male. There are five scrolls, all white, all curling upward.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

It is significant to note that both types of drums can be played together, and musicians and singers perform together. In this example, they are at the feet of a woman representing a divinity, so this activity was being carried out during a religious ceremony. The jaguar pelt on the huehuetl compares to another example of the drum from the Codex Mendoza.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 

second half, sixteenth century

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


music, drums, singers, cantores, tambores, canciones

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

el cantor

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex, Book 1, page 47, World Digital Library,

Image Source, Rights: 

Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Ms. Med. Palat. 220. Su concessione del MiBAC E' vietata ogni ulteriore riproduzione con qualsiasi mezzo.