Migration Period


Aztec origins in Aztlan, fol. 3r.

Representations of Aztlan show it as a place of seven caves, with the word itself meaning perhaps “place of herons.” Here it is an island-hill with a figure standing on top of it surrounded by the calendrical glyph meaning house four times, symbolizing the four calpullis (a smaller group of people within a citystate) that came from an island. The eight house glyphs underneath the island represent eight more calpullis that accompany the original four through part of the migration. This is the beginning of the migration portion of the text, and is in a sense the beginning of the Mexica people, who consider their origin to be the mythic Aztlan.


Codex Aubin_Fol.13v-14r.jpg

Migration page showing stops in Cohuatitlan and Huixachtitlan, fol. 13v-14r.


Then the year-count begins, showing how long the Mexica people migrated before they reached the place that would become Tenochtitlan. Year blocks are grouped together and separated by interruptions in the migration, or places that the Mexica stayed for a period of time. Here, place-glyphs come into play. Place glyphs, or toponyms, are part of the Mixtec and Aztec writing traditions, and would amount to symbols that represent the spoken name of a place, rather than describing the place.

The migration section contains a year count accompanied by many more toponyms, with few pictorial descriptions of places.  Folio 13v shows a period of 20 years (the previous 17 year glyphs are on 13r) being spent in Cohuatitlan. Folio 14r shows a period of 4 years being spent in Huixachtitlan. Both pages utilize place glyphs to name the location that the migration passed through. Folio 13r uses the head of a snake to represent the place Cohuatitlan, or place of snakes. The use of a tree with spiny roots is representative of the name “Huixachtitlan,” meaning place of thorns or acacias (a spiny variety of shrub or tree).