nahuatl (Mdz23r)

nahuatl (Mdz23r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Cuauhnahuac. 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. We have retained part of the original tree and the mouth, to show how the scroll typically emerges from a mouth.

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: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

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

pleasant sound

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 


Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 23 recto,, image 56 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).