mixtli (Mdz10v)

mixtli (Mdz10v)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Mixtlan. This representation of clouds consists of a black-line drawing painted over and filled in with turquoise watercolor. The clouds have a horizontal shape that with fingers that curl down at the lower left and right extremes, plus a central, lower extremity that also curls at the end.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The color of the cloud suggests water, or in other words, rain clouds. Clouds were prized for the rain they might bring, which would benefit temporal agriculture and sustain life. As we see in the entry for mixtli in our online Nahuatl Dictionary, "out of the clouds, out of the mists" was an expression that described people who were "highly esteemed and very rich." Clouds could be white and bright or dark, as the dictionary also shows us. The "cloud people," or people of the Mixteca Alta of what is now the state of Oaxaca, believed that clouds came out of the mountain tops (personal communication from Ronald Spores), which adds to the reverence people held for the mountains. The curling nature of this glyphic representation of clouds suggests movement, possibly wind. The swirling motion of ehecatl (wind) can be seen in the terms ehecacoatl and ecamalacotl, among other terms also found in our dictionary. Breath/speech, smoke, wind, and sound have a similar visual curling nature that suggests movement through the air.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

clouds, curling, visualization of air or vapor movement

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

cloud, clouds

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

las nubes

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 10 verso, https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/objects/2fea788e-2aa2-4f08-b6d9-648c00..., image 31 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).