Tzompahuacan (Mdz35r)

Tzompahuacan (Mdz35r)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This compound sign has multiple elements. There is an architectural base, upon which stands a wooden, orange-colored skull rack (tzompantli) with one skull on the rack, perforated through the mouth and to the back of the skull with a horizontal plank. The skull is outlined in black and largely without coloring, except for the red eyelid. The eye is open, with the pupil visible. Coming out of the top of the skull (tzontli) is a flagpole with one gray-purple flag flying toward the left. The flag seems to serve as a reiteration of the "pa" element in the place name, deriving from (panitl). The -hua- element of possession does not seem to be represented visually, unless the platform silently holds or possesses the skull rack.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Perhaps the place name should be Tzompanhuacan, given that the root is tzompantli, skull rack? Orally, it would be easy, however, to lose the "n" before the syllable hua.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

çonpahuacā, puo

Gloss Normalization: 

Tzompahuacan, pueblo

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

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

Tzonpahuacan, Tzunpahuacan, skulls, cráneos, racks, estantes

Museum & Rare Book Comparisons: 
Museum/Rare Book Notes: 

This is a recreation of a tzompantli in carved stone, found in the Museo de Escultura Mexica. The skulls are meant to represent sacrifices made at the temples. Photo by Stephanie Wood, 13 August 2023.

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Karttunen’s Interpretation: 

"Place Where People Have a Skull Rack" [Frances Karttunen, unpublished manuscript, used here with her permission.]

Additional Scholars' Interpretations: 

"Place That Has a Skull Rack" (Berdan and Anawalt, 1992, vol. 1, p. )

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

"Lugar Donce la Gente Tiene un Estante con Cráneos"

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 35 recto,, image 80 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).