mecatl (Mdz66r)

mecatl (Mdz66r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This example of iconography shows what we are labeling a mecatl (cord, rope), for it has no gloss. Sadly, this rope is tied around the neck of a male ruler. He wears a turquoise-colored diadem with a red tie. His white cape (tilmatli) is tied at his shoulder. His head is bowed slightly and his eyes are closed, which suggest that he is deceased. The Spanish text calls him a cacique, an imported Taíno word from the Caribbean. In the contextualizing image he sits on a woven, yellow, reed seat or throne icpalli, and he has two executors, one on each side, holding the ends of the rope. They have apparently strangled him.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The mecatl had a variety of uses. We include it here for the purpose of making comparisons with glyphs that involve the mecatl in some way, but especially with the verb huilana (to drag).

Quechmecania (to strangle someone, with the elements of throat and rope) is another vocabulary word in Nahuatl that might apply to this iconographic scene. Mecania (which might sound like a loan word, but it is not) refers to the hanging of a person, but one can understand how it is related, using the root of mecatl, too.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c, 1541, by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City


estrangular, executar, caciques, tlatoani, diadema

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

cordel, o soga

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 66 recto,, image 142 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)

Historical Contextualizing Image: