ma (Mdz33r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This representation of a human hand or arm reaching to capture ma something, is cut off below the shoulder and bent at the elbow. It is painted an terracotta flesh tone. The (left) hand is open. Fingernails are visible on all but the thumb. The thumb shows that this is a left hand/arm. This glyphic element has been extracted from a compound glyph that also includes a crow, cacalotl), portraying the place name of the pueblo, Cacalomacan, with only the -can being left out of the visual representation.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Providing the phonetic -ma- for a great many place names, the hand/arm is a frequent entry in this database. In this case, in the original compound hieroglyph, the arm is stretched out over a crow, almost as though it is about to capture (ma) it. The locative suffix (-yan) combines with the verb ma, along with the passive -lo-. The verb ma can easily be mistaken for the noun hand (maitl), since the hand was the instrument for grabbing or capturing.

Added 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

Cultural Content & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


hands, arms, measurements, las mano, los brazos

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

mai(tl), hand or arm, and a measurement,
ma, to take or capture, hunt,
ma(tl), hand or arm, and a measurement,

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

hand, arm

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la mano o el brazo

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 33 recto,, image 76 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).