Malinaltepec (Mdz39r)

Malinaltepec (Mdz39r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Malinaltepec includes two principal elements. One is the sign for malinalli, which is a skull in profile looking to the viewer's right. It has "hair" that is comprised of two-tone green, twisted grass with small yellow balls at the tips. The skull has a full set of teeth, and its mouth is open. The teeth, jaw, and the eye of the skull are all left white or natural. This eye does not have a red eyelid that can be seen on the glyph for Malinalco (below, right); that eye resembles the eye that is used for stars. The other element is a hill or mountain [tepetl), in the standard two-tone green bell shape with rocky outcroppings on the sides and a yellow and a red horizontal stripe near the base. The locative suffix (-c) is not shown separately, but it makes up part of the locative suffix -tepec, "on the hill" or "on the mountain.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The skull points to death, and this may be explained because, as shown in our Online Nahuatl Dictionary, nopalli malinalli is a diphrase or diphrasism that stands for blood (owing to the tuna fruit's red juices) and death, the latter being especially associated with the herbs. Perhaps the malinalli grasses had the potential to heal, preventing death, or to kill. The dried malinalli grasses have been said to serve as curative herbs, and they have an association with "the moon, drunkenness, [and] the theluric goddess Cihuacóatl Quilaztli, who is undoubtedly one aspect of witchcraft." (See: Michel Graulich, "Las brujas de las peregrinaciones aztecas," Estudios de Cultural Náhuatl 22 (1992), 87–98, and for this example, see 91.] While not twisted here, the grass in this glyph has yellow flowers at the tips, much the same as the small yellow flowers in the other rendition of a compound glyph for Malinaltepec on folio 13 recto. Malinalli is also a day sign in the calendar. Karttunen and Berdan both take malinalli here as referring to the grass on the hill, rather than the calendrical name (which does seem to play a role in the place name Malinalco).

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Malinaltepec, pueblo

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Writing Features: 
Shapes and Perspectives: 
Parts (compounds or simplex + notation): 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 
Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"On the Hill of Grass" (concurring with Berdan and Anawalt) [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"On the Hill of Grass" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 190)

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 39 recto,, image 88 of 188.

Image Source, Rights: 

Original manuscript is held by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1; used here with the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)