tzontli (Mdz24v)

tzontli (Mdz24v)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the element for the number 400 seems to consist of human hair or hairs (tzontli). This glyph has been carved from the compound sign for the place name, Tzompanco. The visual is spiky, with about ten upright hairs connected at the base with a horizontal line.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Tzontli is a term not only for hairs but also for the number 400, as is centzontli, which refers to the full or entire tzontli, such as a large clump of human hair or something that looks like a tree. Apparently, a clump of human hair was once equated with the number 400, perhaps having 400 hairs in it. Before the letter "p" it is not at all unusual for a stem such as "tzon," ending in "n," to change to "tzom." Other representations of a human hair tzontli can be a ponytail of sorts, wrapped with a red leather thong (see below). Sometimes the tzontli or centzontli looks like a tree.

Added 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

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

hair or hairs

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el cabello o cuatrocientos

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 24 verso,, image 59 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).