Huaxyacac (Mdz17v)

Huaxyacac (Mdz17v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Huaxyacac shows a face (xayacatl), and the nose (yacatl) has a bifurcated plant growing out, then up and down, from it. The face is in profile (facing to the viewer's right), and it is colored terracotta. The eye is open. The stems of the plant are also terracotta colored. At the end of each of the two stems appears some two-tone green foliage (perhaps sepals) and, emerging from that are two red seed pods, one running horizontally to the right and the other to the left. The plant is the huaxin, which is a tropical tree with edible seed pods. The hill or mountain (two-tone green, bell shaped, with curling rocky outcroppings on the slopes and horizontal lines in red and yellow at the base) does not add a phonetic value to the place name, but the region of Oaxaca does include mountainous zones. This tepetl could also reinforce the the reference to a peak (-yacac).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Here, the nose is figurative for a geographical feature, such as a peak or a point. The locative suffix (-c) here joins with yaca- to mean "at the point" or "on the ridge." In Whittaker's transliteration, we see the "xayaca" of the face superscripted because it is not playing a direct role in the phonetics of the place name. Rather, it is underlining the reading of the other components. It is what Whittaker calls a "phonetic indicator." And the overlap in the reading of the elements is "graphic Syllepsis." Kasia Mikulska, in a presentation at the Library of Congress (4/18/2023) suggests that the bifurcation in the plant may be a subtle reference to the term maxactli, something forked, which shares something of the sound of this place name.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Huaxyacac (Oaxaca today)

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

Huaxyacac, original name for Oaxaca,
maxac(tli), a fork, a bifurcation,

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 17 verso,, image 45 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).