Matixco (Mdz21v)

Matixco (Mdz21v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Matixco has two principal visual elements, an eye (ixtli) and two arms with hands (maitl), one right and one left. The eye has a red eyelid filling half of a circle. Another half circle in the center of the larger circle and, below the red lid, the artist has provided the iris or pupil. It is white, as is the remainder of the eyeball. The hands are a pair (right and left) with attached forearms standing upright. They hands are almost framing the eyes.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The eye here provides the phonetic clue to the reading of the locative suffix, the postposition -ixco (or, here, with the t ligature, -tixco, separating what would otherwise be two adjoining vowels--i.e. euphony), meaning "in front of" (Whittaker) or "on the surface of" (Karttunen). The word maitl can refer to either hands or arms, or both. Usually, the arms that are indicated by this term are the forearms. Full arms are visible when shoulders (acolli) are being indicated. Arm lengths were important in measurements. In this case, however, one almost wonders whether there is a geographical feature in the particular location that was reminiscent of arms. Karttunen suggests a reference to a branch in a river.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

matixco. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Matixco, pueblo

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, or by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

hands, arms, eyes, manos, brazos, ojos, euphony, eufonía, intercalación

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,
ix(tli), eye,
-ixco (locative suffix), in front of or on the surface of,

Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"On the Surface of the Branch" (i.e. possibly a tributary of a river) [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"In Front of the Arms" [Gordon Whittaker, Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 105]; "In the Place of Escape" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 191)

Whittaker's Transliteration: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"Frente a los brazos" or "En frente del cruce de los ríos"(?)

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 21 verso,, image 53 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).