FIGURE 9. Burning buildings and warfare: Cells 15 and 16 the Lienzo de Tlaxcala.
When prehispanic artists wanted to depict the conquest of an enemy town, they drew a building engulfed in flames. In the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, this convention is used in a number of scenes. In Cells 15 and 16, for example—showing events which took place just before the Spaniards and Tlaxcalans were driven from Tenochtitlan in late June of 1520—both the palace where the Spaniards and Tlaxcalans were living, as well as the main temple of Tenochtitlan, are shown wreathed in flames. Warriors battle fight around them (Figure 9). Significantly, the image of fire was also central to one of the Nahuatl metaphors for warfare recorded in Alonso de Molina’s 1555 Vocabulario: war “as a metaphor” is defined as atl tlachinolli: “Water, Fire.” 
10 ‘Guerra. yaoyotl. necaliliztli. tlayecoliztli. & per metapho. mitl. chimalli. atl. tlachinolli. vel, teuatl, tlachnolli’ (Molina 1555, 134r).