Huitzamollan (Mdz39r)

Huitzamollan (Mdz39r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Huitzamolla includes a thorn (huitztli) and what appears to be a root of a plant (amolli) that produces a soapy substance. The locative suffix (-tlan), which becomes -lan before a stem ending in the letter l, such as amol-, is not shown visually, but the gloss supports its reading. The multi-colored huitztli is upright, with the sharp point down. It is painted red and turquoise blue, and has a jagged edge. The root of the amolli is horizontal and rounded, with the exception of the end on the viewer’s right being spiky, something like the top of a pineapple.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The huitztli probably comes from the tip of a maguey leaf. It looks much like other spines or thorns in the Codex Mendoza. Because these spines were used for self-sacrificial blood-letting, the red color may suggest blood.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Huitzamollan, 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

Shapes and Perspectives: 
Parts (compounds or simplex + notation): 
Number of Parts, Other / Comment: 

There could be sand added to the plant root, which would make a third element.


blood, sacrifice, offerings, thorns, spines, soap plants, espinas, sangre, ofrendas

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

huitz(tli), thorn or spine,
amol(li), soap plant,
-tla (locative suffix), place of abundance of item,

Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

“Place of Thorny Amolli Roots” (she notes that the locative does not include the final “n,” so it may be a place of abundance of these roots if the missing “n” was not inadvertent; she also sees the dots on the roots as suggesting a sandy soil in which it grows. [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

“Where Huitzamolli Abounds” (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 189)

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 39 recto,, image 88 of 188.

Image Source, Rights: 

Original manuscript is held by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1; used here with the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)