Tonan Itlan (Mdz21v)

Tonan Itlan (Mdz21v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This is a multicolored painting of the compound glyph for the place name Tonan Itlan. This compound has two components, an older woman's head sitting atop a hill or mountain. The woman, facing to our right, is identifiable as such because of her hairstyle. For comparison, see the glyph for woman (cihuatl). Here, the woman represents the "tonan" part of the place name semantically, referring to "our mother" (to- is a possessive, plural, first person pronoun; -nan- is the stem for nantli). She has white hair, wrinkles, and possibly missing teeth, thus implying age, or something along the lines of "our female ancestor," but she could also be the sacred mother ancestor, Tonantzin. The hill (tepetl) is either a silent locative or stands for altepetl (pueblo, town). It is what Gordon Whittaker (2021, 75) calls a semantic complement. The remainder of the place name, which is spelled "ytla" in the original gloss, has inadvertently dropped its final -n. It should be Itlan, resulting in "next to our mother." Perhaps the fact that her teeth are showing can be taken as representing tlantli (the phonetic visual for the locative suffix for - i).

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

tonanytla, puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Tonanitlan, pueblo

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

Semantic Categories: 
Writing Features: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 
Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 21 verso,, image 53 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).