maitl (Mdz40r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for hand/arm (maitl) has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Toliman. It is a left hand reaching from left to right, taking hold of a tule. The flesh is terracotta colored. We left a bit of the two-toned green reed there to show the taking action.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

According to Gordon Whittaker, we should pay attention to the upright hand without an arm attached versus the more horizontal or diagonal arm, which can have readings other than maitl, such as the ma of capture, ana of grab, or poloa of destroy. (Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 104) In this case, the hand is reaching to take a tule, so the verb ma (take/capture) may be more relevant than the ma of hand/arm. But both can provide the same sound, so they reinforce each other.

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

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

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

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

hand or arm

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 40 recto,, image 90 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).

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