icnocalli (FCbk11f243r)

icnocalli (FCbk11f243r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This is a compound glyph for icnocalli, or “humble house.” The entry concerned with it appears on folio 243r of Book 11, “Earthly Things,” of the General History of the Things of New Spain, also known as the Florentine Codex. It is clearly a house (calli), preceded by a term meaning humble, poor, and the like (icno-). This is signaled by a hunched, even despondent male figure in profile, facing left. He is visible through the building’s doorway. The glyph is outlined in black with gray shading. The house is presented in a frontal view, rather than the older method that tended to show such structures in profile. At first glance, the humble status of the house seemingly is contradicted by the artist’s decision to paint it as a well-built structure of finely formed stones, although perhaps these are meant to be adobe. The lintel and door jambs have a little texture in them that might indicate that they are wooden rather than stone. The building has no decorative elements near its roof line, and rests on a plain platform below. This latter element is rendered by way of shading, undoubtedly the result of a certain amount of Spanish stylistic influence.

Description, Credit: 

Robert Haskett

Added Analysis: 

In this section of Book 11, which presents a series of images of different types of buildings, there are few Spanish translations of the Nahuatl texts. Instead, the images take up the left-hand column on each folio, the column that usually bears the Spanish texts. However, someone added two short Spanish-language glosses to the icnocalli entry. Just above the title of the paragraph there is a translation, “casa humilde” (humble house), and at the end of the Nahuatl text a second gloss relates that the structure is a “choça o cabaña” (hut or cabin). The Nahuatl, meanwhile, emphasizes that this is a home of a poor commoner, not something fancier. As to the man hunched over inside the building, he has what seems to be a cotton cloak with a nice knot on his shoulder, which belies a very low social strata. Perhaps it is a maguey-fiber cloak, although it does not appear so, not having color. The man is barefoot and not seated on any sort of mat or chair, and these facts do support a reading of some humility.

Alternatively, the icno- part of this noun can also refer to a widow or widower. Such glyphs as icnocihuatl and icnooquichtli (below) will often include tears, which appears to express a sadness at being alone. The man in this compound glyph has a bowed head, which might also convey sadness at being alone.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Robert Haskett and Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 


Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Robert Haskett

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Writing Features: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Robert Haskett

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

house, home, building, casa, humble, humilde, poor, pobre

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

icno-, humble, in a sad state, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/icno
cal(li), house, hut, building, structure, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/calli

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la casa humilde

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, et al.

Image Source: 
Image Source, Rights: 

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Historical Contextualizing Image: