Xiuhnel (MH483r)

Xiuhnel (MH483r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph for the name Xiuhnel ("Incapable," "Morning Star," or "Cloud Serpent," attested here an a man's name) consists of a cluster of six diamond shapes outlined in dark ink and left natural or white inside the diamonds. The diamonds, whose points are upright, differ in size. In another rendition of Xiuhnel in the Matrícula de Huexotzinco, the shapes are more like rectangles.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The small trapezoidal and diamond shapes of this glyph are likely turquoise pieces of the type that were used in mosaics (tesserae). Some Matrícula de Huexotzinco examples of the name Xiuhnel have turquoise-blue coloring which supports this interpretation for the lot of them. For extensive examples of turquoise tesserae, see the appendices of Conceptualization of 'Xihuitl' (2008), by Matzumi Izeki. This collection also includes an iconographic example of turquoise (xihuitl) that shows pieces of the stone made into a small, round mosaic (below).

At first glance the name Xiuhnel appears to be a compound of xihuitl (turquoise) and nelli (true). James Lockhart suggests that -nel-, when in combinations, could lose that meaning, as noted in the Online Nahuatl Dictionary under the term nelli. But there is a xiuhnel meaning "incapable" according to Wimmer 2004 (included in the Gran Diccionario Náhuatl). Perhaps more appealing for a person's name is the one provided by a human origin story written in Nahuatl in 1558. In that story Xiuhnel was a cloud serpent, according to an article by Willard Gingerich. Some also say Xiuhnel is the morning star. If so, then the diamonds shapes may relate to that.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 


Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

turquesa, teselas, estrellas, mosaics, mosaicos, creencias, diamantes, estrella de la mañana, serpiente de las nubes, incapaz, nombres de hombres

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

This turquoise mosaic ear plug is Postclassic (1200–1500 C.E.) and Mixtec. the turquoise pieces were imported from what is now the U.S. Southwest. The ear disc, with a wooden backing, is 6.3 cm. in diameter. The piece is in the Kislak Collection (PC 0023) in the Library of Congress. Photo by Stephanie Wood, 2023.

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

Incapaz, La Estrella de la Mañana, o La Serpiente de las Nubes

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 483r, World Digital Library, https://www.loc.gov/resource/gdcwdl.wdl_15282/?sp=45&st=image.

Image Source, Rights: 

This manuscript is hosted by the Library of Congress and the World Digital Library; used here with the Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SAq 3.0).

Historical Contextualizing Image: