Papantla (Mdz52r)

Papantla (Mdz52r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the compound glyph for the place name Papantla (or possibly Papatla) includes an upright, white banner (panitl). The flag is on the left of its post. Stretching out from the banner are two (what appear to be) hanks of hair (papaitl or tzontli?). One lock has what seems to be a paper tie.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

This can mean a place of many banners if the "n" is not intrusive. The locks of hair could refer, however, to the long locks of hair worn by priests that were called papaitl or papatli, according to Alonso de Molina. The hair, if not providing a semantic "Papa-" start to the place name, could also be indicative of tzontli (which is both hair and the number 400, providing a visual for "many"). For example, the "tzon" element shows two locks of hair in the personal name glyphs Quetzonpipique (see below). Tzontli can also be a tied lock of hair at the top of a warrior's head.

The locative suffix (-tla, or -tlah, if we show the glottal stop) refers to a place of abundance. Sometimes the final "n" of the suffix -tlan (place of) has been dropped inadvertently. But, here, the assumption is that the gloss is correct. Thus, Karttunen's interpretation includes the word "many." The noun also has a reduplication of the first syllable, relating to flags or banners.

Citing Wimmer (2004), the Gran Diccionario Náhuatl states that Papantla was a part of the tributary province of Tochpan.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Papantla, pueblo

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, or by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 
Parts (compounds or simplex + notation): 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

flags, banners, banderas, numbers, números

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

pan(itl), flag or banner,
papa(itl), long locks of hair worn by some priests,
-tla (locative suffix), place of abundance of,

Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"Place of Many Banners" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.] Karttunen suggests the hanks of hair are numerical tzontli symbols, and they count 400 each. The reduplication in the name suggests a plural is operating.

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"Place of Papanes [a type of bird?)" or "Good Moon" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, 198)

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"El Lugar de Muchas Banderas"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 52 recto,, image 114 of 188.

Image Source, Rights: 

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, hold the original manuscript, the MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1. This image is published here under the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0).