milli (Mdz6r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element of an agricultural field (milli) has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Xochimilco. It is a horizontal rectangle divided into three segments of alternating colors, two orange and one purple. All of the segments have the same texturing, with rows of dots along the top and bottom perimeters and and c-shapes through the middle (three in the orange segments and two in the purple segment. The c-shapes are might also be described as tipped-over u-shapes, and they can face right or left, as seen in the examples (below, right).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The dots and c-shapes would appear to represent something to do with cultivation. Perhaps they are the markings of the huictli, digging stick, which could penetrate the ground, and the farmer would drop seeds in the holes, or perhaps the dots are the seeds themselves. The segments may suggest a parceling of the agricultural land, as parcels were often distributed on a usufruct basis to families of the communities. In Nahuatl testaments of the Spanish-colonial period, such parcels were typically called milli or tlalli, perhaps with the latter being slightly larger parcels. These terms are under investigation for their precise distinctions. In this collection, the ixtlahuatl (plain) has similar, possibly agricultural markings, as does the amilli. The word milli was the basis for the term milpa, which entered Spanish and became equated with corn field.

Added 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

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

mil(li), agricultural parcel or field,

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

agricultural field

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la milpa

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 6 recto,, image 22, 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).