tzontli (Mdz48r)

tzontli (Mdz48r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This logogram for a bundle of hair (tzontli) has been carved from the compound glyph for Tochtzonco. The element here shows a sizable lock of hair (purplish) wrapped with perhaps a red leather strip.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The term tzontli can refer to a head or a full head of hair, but many times in glyphic representations, it is a thick lock or clump of hair, either wrapped, tied at the base, or held in a human hand, such as can be seen in the attestations included in the Tetlacuilolli.

The sign for tzontli can sometimes appear similar to bundles of blades of grass (zacatl) given as tribute payments. Four hundred hairs or pieces of grass would be centzontli (the number 400, or a single or entire tzontli). Some hair binders had feathers attached to them, such as the tlalpiloni. Warriors often wore their hair bound, as part a style referred to as the temillotl. But singers would tie their hair and attach feathers to it as we see in the Florentine Codex. A similar red leather tie is called a "cinta de cuero rojo," employed in the process of tying up one's hair to be converted into a warrior, according to Guy Stresser-Péan (1995, 45). (See our Bibliography for the full citation to his study.)

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

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 
SVG of Glyph: 
SVG Image, Credit: 

Crystal Boulton-Scott made the SVG.


hairs, cabellos, ponytails

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

hair or lock of hair

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

los cabellos, el pelo

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 48 recto,, image 106 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).