mamalhuaztli (TR27r)

mamalhuaztli (TR27r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph for fire drilling (mamalhuaztli) comes from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis. It compares somewhat favorably to the examples from the Codex Mendoza (see below), although the colors vary. This one shows a reed-arrow being employed for the drilling. Curls of smoke rise up from the hot spot where the arrow meets the horizontal piece of wood. This one has a flat, white, horizontal foundation upon which the piece of wood sits.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The New Fire Ceremony was called the xiuhmolpilli, when 52 years were "bundled," so this drilling of the fire was related to the calendar. The gloss (and the line from the horizontal calendar to the glyph) shows that this particular fire drilling took place in the year 1246. See this image of a fire-drilling ceremony in the Codex Borbónicus. See also the short article about the fire drilling ceremony in Mexicolore.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Date of Manuscript: 

ca. 1550–1563

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood and Stephanie Wood


fires, fuegos, incendios, flechas, plumas, calendarios, xiuhpohualli, año, turquesa, xihuitl

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

mamalhuaz(tli), a hand tool or drill for making fire,

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el palo saca-fuego

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Telleriano-Remensis Codex, folio 27 recto, MS Mexicain 385, Gallica digital collection,

Image Source, Rights: 

The non-commercial reuse of images from the Bibliothèque nationale de France is free as long as the user is in compliance with the legislation in force and provides the citation: “Source / Bibliothèque nationale de France” or “Source / BnF.”

Historical Contextualizing Image: