nahuatl (Mdz17v)

nahuatl (Mdz17v)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for speech (nahuatl) or the verb "to speak" (nahua) has been carved from the compound glyph of the place name Acolnahuac. The visual captures what scholars call a speech scroll. This one rolls horizontally to the right, with the curling part down. It is painted turquoise.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The speech scroll is a visual meant to evoke -nahuac, a locative, which sounds like nahuatl but means "near" or "next to." Its coloring (turquoise blue) may suggest a reverence for the spoken word. In Nahua culture, the ruler was the tlahtoani, the one who speaks. See below right, for other examples of the speech scroll, which can present itself to the left or to the right, usually curling under. One presentation of nahuatl has many curls and a yellow color, and this one awaits fuller analysis. Also below, right, the viewer may see some examples of how nahuatl could be used to represent the locative -nahuac.

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 & Iconography: 

speech scrolls, volutas

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


Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 17 verso,, image 45 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).