Huitztlan (Mdz47r)

Huitztlan (Mdz47r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Huitztlan features a bloody maguey spike, spine, or thorn (huitztli) and two front teeth (tlantli), intended as the phonetic value for the locative suffix, -tlan. The spike or spine has smaller thorns going down the left side. The two teeth are to the right of the spine, connecting to it with a short black line. The teeth are two, upper, front teeth, white with red gums.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Thorns had ritual uses related to sacrificial bloodletting. Blood-stained thorns are mentioned in various attestations in our online Nahuatl Dictionary for the word huitztli, and this may explain the choice of red coloring on the point and edges of the thorn or spike shown in this glyph. The other color, turquoise, may convey the thorn's plant origin, given that the word for turquoise (xihuitl) is a synonym for plant greenery. Some maguey plants have a bluish color, and turquoise was also a color signifying preciosity. A thorn used for self-sacrifice and religious offerings would be precious.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

huiztlan. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Huitztlan, 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

Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

thorns, spines, teeth, dientes, espinas, magueyes

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

"Spine/Thorn Place" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"By the Thorns" (Whittaker, 2021, 67); "Place of Many Thorns" or "South" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 190)

Whittaker's Transliteration: 


Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 47 recto,, image 104 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).