Huitznahuatl (MH515r)

Huitznahuatl (MH515r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph for the personal name Huitznahuatl (here, attested as the name of a man) shows two upright thorns or spines (huitztli), touching at the bottom. They have black tips and red (or pinkish red) bases, with a horizontal white stripe and a bit more white, edging into the black, in the middle.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

It remains to be determined if anything in the iconography could lead to a reading of nahuatl (language, speech). In tlilli in tlapalli, "the black, the red (or colors)" was a diphrasis and metaphor for writing and painting, which by extension involves language, so perhaps the coloring of the thorns here is meant to convey that. Huitznahuatl, "Thorn Speech," is a title that was held by a dignitary, as shown on folio 66 recto of the Codex Mendoza. Thorns were used for blood-letting in self-sacrificial religious rituals. Some have the red color (symbolizing blood, most likely) at the tip. Some thorns that were used in rituals were decorated with a jade bead.

John Bierhorst (A Nahuatl-English Dictionary and Concordance to the Cantares Mexicanos, 1985, 143) says that Huitznahuatl was a "name or epithet of a god to whom slaves were sacrificed in Mexico." Other sources report that one of the ethnic groups that migrated from the Seven Caves came from a place called Huitznahuac, and there was a temple with this association in Mexico Tenochtitlan. Finally, Huitznahuatl was a high title, and it had an association with the South. The name was not inaccessible for tribute-paying men of humble means, such as found in the census of modern-day Morelos and in the Matrícula de Huexotzinco (modern-day Puebla). See the Online Nahuatl Dictionary for more information about Huitznahuac and Huitznahuatl.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood

Parts (compounds or simplex + notation): 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

thorns, spines, espinas, lenguaje, discursos

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

Huitznahuatl, name and title,
huitz(tli), thorn, spine,
nahua(tl), language, speech, an agreeable sound,

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

Discurso de Espinas

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 515r, World Digital Library,

Image Source, Rights: 

This manuscript is hosted by the Library of Congress and the World Digital Library; used here with the Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SAq 3.0).

Historical Contextualizing Image: