Xiuhnel (MH513r)

Xiuhnel (MH513r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph for the personal name Xiuhnel ("Incapable," "Morning Star," or "Cloud Serpent," consists of a group of small pieces (tesserae) of turquoise stone (xihuitl).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

These are small turquoise pieces (tesserae) of the type that were used in mosaics. Some examples of the glyphs for the name Xiuhnel, such as this one, have turquoise-blue coloring which supports this interpretation for all 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).

For some excellent examples of turquoise mosaics from Mexico that are in the British Museum, see Elizabeth M. Carmichael, Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1970) and Colin McEwan et al, Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).

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 OND 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 sources also say that Xiuhnel was the name of the Morning Star.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Semantic Categories: 

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

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 513r, World Digital Library, https://www.loc.gov/resource/gdcwdl.wdl_15282/?sp=105&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: