Mictlan (Mdz16v)

Mictlan (Mdz16v)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph represents the place name Mictlan. Here, white bones (omitl), symbolic and silent), enclose on three sides a square piece of land, whether representing tlalli, also silent) or perhaps meant to represent the locative suffix, -tlan, place of. The tlalli has u-shapes on their side, but none of the usual dots that typically alternate in rows with the u-shapes. This land is painted purple, which is one of the standard colors. We are looking down on the land and the bones from a bird's eye point of view.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

There are multiple versions of this glyph, all of them different from this one. Mictlan refers to the place of the dead. There is a town in the contemporary state of Oaxaca that bore this name. Today it is called Mitla. There was also a Mictlan in what is now the state of Veracruz.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Mictlan, pueblo (today, Mitla)

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): 

death, dying, bones, agriculture, land, parcels, muerte, huesos, agricultura, tierra, parcela

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

"Death Place" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"By the Dead" (Whittaker, 2021, 78); "Where There Are Many Dead" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 192)

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"El Lugar de la Muerte"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 16 verso, https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/objects/2fea788e-2aa2-4f08-b6d9-648c00..., image 43 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).