Nocheztlan (Mdz43r)

Nocheztlan (Mdz43r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This complex glyph stands for the place name Nocheztlan ("Near the Cochineal"). It includes a container (terracotta in color and shaped like a trapezoid) full of nocheztli (cochineal, a red dye made from insects that grow on the prickly pear cactus). The container also includes a green prickly pear cactus fruit (nochtli) and a horizontal stream of red liquid with green dots splashing off of it, possibly intending eztli, blood. The fruit is spiny, with thorns that are red at the base and white at the tip, and a red flower at the top. The locative suffix (-tlan) does not have a visual representation here.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The cactus fruit in the container underlines that this is cochineal, as opposed to achiotl, a food seasoning, for example. Another clue is provided in the red liquid that resembles water, but with turquoise blue tips where the usually white water bubbles or droplets (or jade stones) and turbinate shells would appear. This is apparently intending blood (eztli), which, when paired with nochtli, provides the phonetic indications for the word nocheztli. When one squishes one of the insects from the cactus, the result is a smear that looks much like blood. See also Mary Elizabeth Haude's blog post, "Prickly Pear Blood: The Mesoamerican Red Colorant Cochineal," at the Library of Congress.

The substitution of "i" for "e" in Nahuatl is not unusual, so Nochiztlan could be an acceptable alternative to Nocheztlan.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

nochiztlan. puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Nocheztlan, pueblo (Nochiztlan, today)

Gloss 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: 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

Nochiztlan, juice, dye, jugo, tinta, fruit, fruta, insecto, insect, blood, sangre

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

"Cochineal Place" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"Where There is Much Cochineal" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. 195)

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"El Lugar de la Cochinilla"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 43 recto,, 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).