teocalli (Mdz5v)

teocalli (Mdz5v)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for teocalli (temple) has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Teocalhueiacan. The teocalli consists of a two-part stepped building, what some might call a pyramid, with a building on top that is typically called a calli. We see the calli in profile view. Unlike many calli in this collection, it has a thatched roof. The building is white with orange beams, and the thatched roof consists of alternating horizontal rows of yellow and orange.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The word teocalli is a compound word that combines teo- (the root for teotl, divinity) with calli (house, building). The thatch does differentiate this calli from more standard examples of calli found here. Notice how this teocalli compares with the one that is part of Teocaltzinco, which has a very different roof. Compare, too, how this teocalli compares with the teopan, another word for temple, such as we have in this collection (below, right). The principal visual difference between the teocalli and the teopan, here, is the presence of the calli on top of the stepped structure.

The museum comparison has yet another roof decoration/facade. But the steps and the articulation where the angle of the steps shifts on the way up are echoed in this model from the National Museum of Anthropology.

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


temples, stepped pyramids, religious structures, religious buildings, architecture, thatch, edificios, arquitectura

Museum & Rare Book Comparisons: 
Museum/Rare Book Notes: 

teocalli. Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Salón Mexica. Photograph by Stephanie Wood, 14 February 2023.

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


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el templo, la pirámide

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 
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).