tzintli (Mdz40r)

tzintli (Mdz40r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element was carved from the compound glyph for the place name Cuauhtecomatzinco. In this representation of tzintli, a phonetic indicator for the reverential suffix (-tzin) and not literally meant to refer to the man's buttocks, we see about half a human body, somewhat horizontal, pointed toward the viewer's right, largely naked. We know it is male because we see the white waistband of the loincloth. The knees are up against the abdomen, making the bottom more prominent, but not particularly detailed, being in profile. On the other hand, there is a fair amount of detail in the legs and feet, showing some toes and a couple of white toenails. Other than the white belt and toenails, the body is painted a tan-flesh color.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

As with all—or at least the vast majority—of examples of this glyph, the meaning "buttocks" has nothing to do with the meaning of the glyphs, although it may have a metaphorical value of "lower." When modifying a place name, as Frances Karttunen suggests, the meaning of "tzin" is new, little, or lower. It can also refer to something revered, for instance, when combined with something having the element "teo" (from teotl, divine force).

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: 

David Elliott made the SVG.


butts, buttocks, rear end, little, lower, bottom, nalgas, trasero

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

buttocks, bottom, anus; little, lower

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

las nalgas, el ano

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 
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).