tlaxcalli (Mdz42r)

tlaxcalli (Mdz42r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph stands for the noun tortilla (tlaxcalli), just as it does for the ethnicity Tlaxcalteca and the place name Tlaxcallan. The glyph is a round black-line drawing with vertical black hash marks, adding texture, and a left hand in the middle that reminds us of the action of slapping the dough into the thin, round, corn cakes that come to be tortillas. The hand is a yellow-tan with white fingernails. It is upright.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

In some contexts, the hand could convey a phonetic "ma" (relating to hand, maitl, or the verb to take/grab/capture/hunt, ma. But this is not the case here. The gloss helps identify the tlaxcalli, by providing the ethnicity, Tlaxcaltecatl, associated with the famous place, Tlaxcallan (Tlaxcala, today). These hash marks are somewhat similar to the marks on ears of corn and the agricultural tool called the huictli, which can be seen in the thumbnails below, right. They may be iconographic for maize/corn--as opposed to flour, for example, which became a grain used for tortillas only after the introduction of wheat by Europeans. Of course, corn remained the favorite grain for tortillas in the central areas even after contact.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 


Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


tortillas, corn, maíz, maize

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

la tortilla

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 42 recto,, image 94 of 188.

Image Source, Rights: 

Original manuscript is held by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1; used here with the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)