Xiuhnel (MH648v)

Xiuhnel (MH648v)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph for the personal name Xiuhnel ("Morning Star," "Cloud Serpent," or "Incapable"), which is attested here as a man's name, shows a group of three green plant sprigs with leaves. The sprigs are grouped with a ring at the bottom, and their stems protrude below the ring. The ring has angled hatch marks, suggesting it is twine or cord (perhaps mecatl).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The name Xiuhnel was fairly common. In the Matrícula de Huexotzinco, it is often depicted as a group of turquoise (xihuitl) tesserae, bits that were used for making mosaic decorations. Xihuitl could mean turquoise, year, herbs, greens. Here, it clearly refers to a green herb, which could have had medicinal and/or food value. But all the representations for the name Xiuhnel seems to be phonetic, intending to bring forth "Xiuh-" the root of xihuitl (in all its various translations).

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 also say Xiuhnel is the morning star. If so, then the rectangular shapes may relate to that.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood


plantas, hierbas, estrellas, serpiente-nube, nombres de hombres, xiuhpohualli, año, turquesa, xihuitl

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

Xiuhnel, incapable, morning star, or cloud serpent, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xiuhnel
xihui(tl), turquoise, herb, year, blue-green, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xihuitl-0
xihui(tl), year, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xihuitl

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

Incapaz, Estrella de la Mañana, or Serpiente de las Nubes

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 648v, World Digital Library, https://www.loc.gov/resource/gdcwdl.wdl_15282/?sp=379&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: