tecpantli (Mdz36r)

tecpantli (Mdz36r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This glyph for (tecpantli) stands for the number 20. It includes two Roman numerals, xx, which are two tens, meaning 20. This numerical notation clarifies that the flag represents 20 items. Another word for flag or banner in Tenochtitlan was panitl, often confused with pantli, which referred to agricultural furrows or rows, which of course were often counted in twenties, given that the numbering system was vigesimal. It Tetzcoco, the flag or banner was the pamitl. [See Gordon Whittaker, Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs, 2021, 62.]

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The gloss is best considered in light of the conteztualizing image, for it tells us that this compound notation stands for 70. This means each flag counts twenty years, as three times 20 is 60, and another ten ones (above), come to 70. It is a challenge to differentiate between the panitl (or pamitl) and the pantli. The visual representations look the same, and the spelling is so similar that even the stem is the same. The separation into two or three distinct orthographies may be overblown, but we are tracking this.

Roman numerals were added to some manuscripts as glosses by those who wished to explain the meaning of glyphs. Roman numerals were also taken into Nahuatl as loans as a result of contact with and instruction from European colonizers. Here's an example from our Online Nahuatl Dictionary for the Roman numeral "x". A Roman numeral for the year 1557 represents the highest Roman number that we have as an attestation in the dictionary at the moment.

Added 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 & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

twenty, 20, numbers, números, veinte, cempohualli, xiuhpohualli, año, xihuitl

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


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la bandera

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 36 recto, https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/objects/2fea788e-2aa2-4f08-b6d9-648c00..., image 82 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).