yohualli (Mdz6r)

yohualli (Mdz6r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This glyph appears to be a simplex representing yohualli (night). It has also been used for the place name Yohuallan. It consists of a gray circle with four evenly placed, red-and-white eyes (also interpreted as stars) inside the circle. Around the perimeter are eight more stars, also evenly placed.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

If we read the gray mass of the circle as representing the earth, land, or a place, then the glyph may be a compound that includes the locative suffix -tlan. It is worth noting, however, that the usual way of showing the locative suffix "tlan" is to show teeth (tlantli). In the other attestation of yohualli, one can see dots and u-shaped symbols that also appear in tlalli and milli, suggesting land and agriculture. However, the twelve red, heavy-lidded eyes share a reading of "stars" (citlalli), and the gray mass without the agricultural marks could simply suggest the dark night sky. Furthermore, whereas we often see land from a bird's eye view, we may be looking up to the night sky. If so, its circular shape may be owing to the way the sky seems circular from the vantage point of standing on the ground and looking up. There may have been a religious significance to night time, too, given the importance of "lord of the near, of the nigh, the night, the wind," quoted in our online dictionary under the entry for yohualli.

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


stars, eyes, ojos, estrellas, la noche, nighttime

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

Codex Mendoza, folio 6 recto, https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/objects/2fea788e-2aa2-4f08-b6d9-648c00..., image 22, of 188.

Image Source, Rights: 

Original manuscript is held by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1; used here with the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)

See Also: