Huei Pochtlan (Mdz29r)

Huei Pochtlan (Mdz29r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This is a simplex hieroglyph for a place name, Huei Pochtlan (or Hueipochtla/Hueipochtlah, if the gloss is to be believed). It shows a male's head. The hairstyle suggests it is a male figure, as does the "poch" (youth) element in the name, perhaps having a similar origin as telpochtli, as pointed out by Frances Karttunen. He looks to our right. The face is primarily red, but with turquoise-blue lips and hair yellow. Above the forehead is a long green feather (from a quetzalli, perhaps), a gray-brown eagle feather, and a white down ball.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

There was an Aztec deity with the name Opochtli ("The Left") who was associated with people who lived on the water, and he was known for fishing and hunting. The person in this glyph, if not a representation of the deity, could be a merchant. The place name has two elements, huei (for large or great) and pochtlan (merchantry). Alternately, the -tlan is the locative suffix (by or among), and the -poch- refers to youth. James Lockhart suggested that a Pochtecatl was originally just a person from Pochtlan, but the people from that community came to be famous as long distance traders. Eventually, the ethnic association with a given town gave way to an occupational label in general. [See: The Nahuas, 1992, 192.] The imagery of a very distinctive person's head would appear to have ethnic markers, such as the face and hair colors and the feathered headdress. The head in this glyph faces the opposite way from the other example we have for this place name, which may or may not have a significance.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Hueipochtla(n), pueblo

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


merchants, traders, Hueypochtlan, Huey Pochtlan, Hueypuchtlan, Hueipuchtlan, mercaderes, pochteca, tratantes, etnicidad

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

huei, great or large,
-poch, youth (see telpochtli and ichpochtli),
pochtlan, merchantry,
pochteca(tl), a long-distance merchant,
-tlan (locative suffix), place,
-tla or -tlah (locative suffix), place of abundance of item,

Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"Place of Great Opochtli" (Frances Karttunen apparently agrees with the translation of Berdan and Anawalt. But she adds this in her notes: "There seems to be a morpheme in ichpo:ch- 'young woman' and telpo:ch- 'young man' that may also occur in the deity names o:po:ch- and hui:zilo:po:ch-. It forms its plural by reduplication: po:po:ch-; cf. telpo:po:chtin 'young men' rather than simply tel.po:chtin."

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"Place of Great Opochtli" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 188)

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 29 recto,, image 68 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).