Mictlan (Mdz43r)

Mictlan (Mdz43r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound glyph for the place name Mictlan has two principal components, a wrapped corpse (micqui) and an open-mouthed skull, in profile, facing to the right, facing the corpse. The skull, very close to the corpse, appears to almost be opening its mouth to bite the corpse. The corpse is in profile view, facing away from the skull, also facing to the viewer's right. Everything is drawn in black lines, and no colorant is added anywhere in this glyph. The corpse is in an upright, seated position with its knees up under the chin, typical of males. The fabric has an appearance reminiscent of a cloak, the clothing of elite men.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The skull is a logogram for the verb mic-, to die, which serves as a "semantic indicator" for the mummy bundle, according to Gordon Whittaker (Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 78). Other shrouded corpses do not have this complement, so it must not have been a required component. Sometimes the ropes or ties around the fabric run criss-crossing, as seen in other examples of corpses (micqui) below, right. We have multiple variations of glyphs for Mictlan and Miquetlan in this collection. The locative suffix (-tlan) might not be represented visually in this example, although the teeth in the skull could have this double purpose.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

mictlan. puo

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

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

death, dead, mummies, mummy bundle, dying, skulls, muertes, momias, muriendo, calaveras

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
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"Death Place" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]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)

Whittaker's Transliteration: 


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"Junto al Lugar de los Muertos"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 43 recto, https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/objects/2fea788e-2aa2-4f08-b6d9-648c00..., image 96 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).