tzapotl (Mdz48r)

tzapotl (Mdz48r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element for tzapotl (zapote in Spanish, sapote in English) a fruit borne by a tree has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Teuhzoltzapotlan. The tree consists of a trunk, a leader, and two more branches. The trunk is terracotta-colored, as are the branches. The greenery on the branches is a two-tone green. Protruding from each branch's greenery is a single short stem, each one with a round fruit at the end. The tree also has curling, red roots. The term for the fruit is tzapotl; in Book 11 of the Florentine Codex the tree is called a tzapocuahuitl.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

In the other examples of the tzapotl (zapote, sapote) fruit tree that we have from various compound glyphs (below right), we see green balls (an apple-like fruit) in lieu of the stones. Some of these trees have one, two, or three fruits per branch. Alonso de Molina translates tzapotl as "cierta fruita conocida," a type of fruit that is known (i.e. locally]. Some call this tree the Mexican apple, or "sapote tree" in English. According to Wikipedia, the fruit is edible, it contains pharmacological properties such as histamines, and the seeds may have been used by the Aztecs to make poison.

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


trees, branches, roots, árboles, ramas, raíces, fruits, frutas

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el árbol zapote

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 48 recto,, image 106 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).