Xiuhnel (MH537v)

Xiuhnel (MH537v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black line drawing of a compound glyph for the name Xiuhnel ("Incapable," "Morning Star," or "Cloud Serpent," attested here an a man's name) consists of a cluster of four rectangular shapes outlined in dark ink and left natural or white inside. The compound also includes one large leaf, roots, and other plant pieces, it would seem. The term xihuitl can also refer to green herbs, so perhaps that is what the leaf means in this compount.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The small rectangular shapes of this glyph are likely turquoise pieces (tesserae) of the type that were used in mosaics. Some MH 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.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

luys xiuhnel

Gloss Normalization: 

Luis Xiuhnel

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood


turquoise, mosaic, tesserae, teselas, turquesa, mosáicos, hojas verdes, plantas, Morning Star, Cloud Serpent, creencias, rectángulos, serpiente de las nubes, estrella de la mañana, incapaz, nombres de hombres

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 

Xiuhnel, a name, incapable, Cloud Serpent, or Morning Star, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xiuhnel
xihui(tl), turquoise, new green leaves, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xihuitl-0
nel(li), true, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/nelli

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

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

Image Source: 
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: