Malinaltepec (Mdz41r)

Malinaltepec (Mdz41r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Malinaltepec, has three principal elements: a skull (not a phonetic part of the name) with tall grasses (malinalli) for hair, and this sits atop a hill or mountain (tepetl). The locative suffix (-c) (as given in the gloss) is not shown visually, but it combines with -tepe- to form -tepec, a visual locative suffix meaning "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 diphrasis 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, because the dried malinalli grasses have been said to serve as curative herbs, and they have an association with "the moon, drunkenness, 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: 

malinaltepec. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Malinaltepec, 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

Shapes and Perspectives: 
Parts (compounds or simplex + notation): 
Number of Parts, Other / Comment: 

One could say that the skull and grasses combine into one element, but they are being counted here separately.

Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

mountains, hills, montañas, cerros, grasses, medicinal herbs, hierbas

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

malinal(li), long grass or twisted grass,
tepe(tl), hill or mountain,
-tepec, on the hill or mountain, 

Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"On the Hill of Grass" (apparently agreeing with Berdan and Anawalt) [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"On the Hill of Grass" (Berdan and Anwalt, vol. 1, p. )

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"En el cerro de las hierbas 'malinalli'"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 41 recto,, image 92 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).