tlantli (Mdz38r)

tlantli (Mdz38r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element showing two teeth tlantli) actually provides the phonetic locative suffix, -tlan, for the place name Petlatlan. It comprises two white (presumably) front teeth set in red gums. The gums are somewhat curved, providing a hint of natural contours. Each tooth has two parallel, vertical lines, capturing the natural grooves in such teeth. This arrangement with the gums above the teeth is very common, but one will also see the gums below (see tlantli_CM18, and sometimes the teeth are imbedded in an object, such as we see with the tlantli element on folio 3 verso.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

In this collection, the tlantli glyph always forms part of a compound glyph, adding the phonetic value -tlan, which is a locative, telling the reader that this is a place. The value comes easily from the stem for teeth, tlantli, but the meaning should not be construed as anything literal in the place-name glyphs where this sign occurs. Of the two types of signs that mean tlantli, this one is more common than our tlantli on folio 3 verso, the teeth that become embedded (in unlikely and sometimes humorous ways) in other shapes.

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, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

SVG of Glyph: 
SVG Image, Credit: 

Crystal Boulton-Scott made the SVG.


locative suffixes, places, locations, tooth, teeth

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 
tooth, teeth, place
Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el diente, los dientes, el sufijo que indica lugar (tlan)

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 38 recto,, image 86 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).