tlaolli (Mdz2v)

tlaolli (Mdz2v)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This iconographic example of maize kernels {tlaolli) shows three white (or neutral) kernels that are shaped something like teeth. Each one has its germ (or embryo) outlined at the base of the kernel.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Hieroglyph artists were very familiar with the living heart of the kernel. See this online diagram that identifies the parts of the kernel. Alonso de Molina explains that the word tlaolli refers to the dried kernels that have been separated from the cob. Our Online Nahuatl Dictionary explains how kernels were a tribute item, measured in cuartillos and almudes (Spanish measures) and the tanatli (an indigenous basket). They could also be used for counting "sins" (possibly a concept influenced by the friar observing the practice. We also know from codices that maize kernels were used for divination by Cipactonal and Oxomoco. See also this image in the Codex Borbonicus.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 


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

Cultural Content & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Xitlali Torres and Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 
Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 20 verso,, image 15 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).