nocheztli (Mdz15v)

nocheztli (Mdz15v)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for the logogram cochineal (nocheztli) has been carved from the place name Nochiztlan. The change in vowel from i to e is not unusual. The element consists of a bowl full of red balls of dye that come from the insects that thrive on the nopalli cactus. The insects are scraped off the plant. The name nocheztli appears to combine nochtli, cactus fruit, with eztli, blood, and perhaps that is the reason that the a couple of fruits (tunas, in Spanish) appear in the bowl with the cochineal. They help identify the substance in the bowl as cochineal instead of, for instance, achiotl (achiote, a seasoning for food). See below.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

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


cochineal, bugs, red dyes, cactus blood

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


Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 15 verso,, image 41 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).