teocuitlatl (Mdz13v)

teocuitlatl (Mdz13v)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element showing the sign for gold (teocuitlatl) has been carved from the compound hieroglyph for the place name, Teocuitlatlan. The glyph consists of a pair of concentric circles. Inside the inner circle is an upright cross with rounded tips and an inner cross that weaves through the middle, something resembling a Celtic interweaving, and giving it almost a three-dimensionality. Four smaller circles fill the spaces between the legs of the cross. The entire sign is painted yellow. It may well be that the flames [tletl)] that are not showing here, but which are found in the original place name glyph, should have remained a part of this element, as we are not certain if they provide an added meaning or sound to the place name. If not, then it could be considered a simplex glyph. The other representation of Teocuitlatlan in the Codex Mendoza (below, right) has an even more interwoven cross in its teocuitlatl) glyph, and that glyph is clearly part of a compound glyph.

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City


gold, oro, metales, monedas

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

teocuitlatl. A cheek ornament on a bust of Coyolxauhqui at the Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Salón Mexica. The bell (coyolli) is suspended from something engraved with the glyph for teocuitlatl, suggesting that the ornament is fashioned out of gold. Photograph by Robert Haskett, 14 February 2023, who also wrote this commentary.

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

a piece of gold

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el oro

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 13 verso, https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/objects/2fea788e-2aa2-4f08-b6d9-648c00..., image 37 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).