Huitzilopochco (Mdz20r)

Huitzilopochco (Mdz20r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Huitzilopochco has a visual/phonetic element in the form of a hummingbird (huitzilin), in profile view, painted a two-tone green with yellow beak, eye, and feet. It is facing to the viewer's right with its short wings raised. Behind the bird is a circle filled in with turquoise blue paint, suggesting a bird's eye view of a body of water. The locative suffix (-co) is not visual.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The circle filled with turquoise blue suggests a body of water, such as a lake, even though it does not have the same black, wavy lines found in such bodies of water as the huei atl or the typical apantli (see below, right). There is broad agreement that the hummingbird in this place name is meant to recall the deity, Huitzilopochtli, and the gloss supports this. The locative suffix (-co) added to his name just says "in" or "at." Gordon Whittaker suggests that this place was the location of a temple dedicated the deity. The lake water does not play a part in the town name, but it adds information that this is the community on the lake shore. [See Whittaker, Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 75.] So, the lake is a visual locative, but not phonetic.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

huiçilopuchco. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Huitzilopochco, pueblo (today, Churubusco, part of Mexico City)

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: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 
Reading Order, Notes: 

The hummingbird provides the only phonetic component of the place name, and it is in front of the circle filled with water (but silent).


hummingbirds, lakes, colibríes, lagos, deities, deidades

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

"In the Place of Huitzilopochtli" (agreeing with Berdan and Anawalt; but she suggests that the element "poch," suggesting youth, may play a role in the deity's name rather than opochtli, meaning both "left" and another deity's name, Opochtli) [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"By [the Temple of] Huitzilopochtli (Hummingbird Sorcerer)" (Whittaker, 2021, 75); "In the Place of Huitzilopochtli" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 189)

Whittaker's Transliteration: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"En [el Lugar del Templo de] Huitzilopochtli"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 20 recto,, image 50 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).