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Page 11 reverse from Codex Magliabechiano, showing four day-symbols of the tonalpohualli: (Ce = one) Flint/Knife tecpatl, (Ome = two) Rain quiahuitl, (Yei = three) Flower xochitl, and (Nahui = four) Caiman/Crocodile (cipactli), with Spanish descriptions.

The tonalpohualli Nahuatl pronunciation: [toːnaɬpoːˈwalːi], a Nahuatl word meaning "count of days", is an Aztec version of the 260-day calendar in use in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. This calendar is neither solar nor lunar, but rather consists of 20 (veintenas), 13-day (trecenas) periods. Each trecena is ruled by a different deity.


Tonalpohualli calendar representation

The basis of the tonalpohualli, is unknown. Several theories have been advanced for this calendrical period: that it represents a Venusian cycle, that it represents the human gestation period, or that it represents the number of days between the zenithal passage of the sun in the tropical lowlands. On the other hand, some scholars including J. E. S. Thompson suggest that the tonalpohualli was not based on natural phenomena at all, but rather on the integers 13 and 20, both considered important numbers in Mesoamerica.

The other major Aztec calendar, the xiuhpohualli, is a 365-day year, based on 18 months of 20 days and five nameless days. A xiuhpohualli was designated by the name of its first tonalpohualli day. For example, Hernán Cortés met Moctezuma II on the day 8 Wind in the year 1 Reed[citation needed] (or November 8, 1519 in the Julian calendar[1]).

The xiuhpohualli and the tonalpohualli would coincide approximately every 52 years.

Day signs[edit]

[citation needed]

n.º Trecena Aztec deities associated Cardinal point
1 1 Cipactli (Caiman or aquatic monster) Tonacatecuhtli East
2 1 Ehēcatl (Wind) Quetzalcoatl North
3 1 Calli (House) Tepeyollotl, Quetzalcoatl West
4 1 Cuetzpalin (Lizard) Huehuecoyotl or Macuilxochitl South
5 1 Cōātl (Snake) Chalchiuhtlicue and Tlazolteotl East
6 1 Miquiztli (Death) Tonatiuh and Tecuciztecatl North
7 1 Mazātl (Deer) Tlaloc and Chicomecoatl o 4 Ehécatl West
8 1 Tōchtli (Rabbit) Mayahuel and Xochipilli or Cinteotl South
9 1 Ātl (Water) Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli or Xiuhtecuhtli East
10 1 Itzcuintli (Dog) Mictlantecuhtli North
11 1 Ozomahtli (Monkey) Patecatl and Cuauhtliocelotl West
12 1 Malīnalli (Grass) Itztlacoliuhqui South
13 1 Ācatl (Reed) Tezcatlipoca or Uactli and Ixcuina or Tlazolteotl East
14 1 Ocēlōtl (Ocelot or Jaguar) Tlazolteotl North
15 1 Cuāuhtli (Eagle) Xipe Totec and Quetzalcoatl West
16 1 Cōzcacuāuhtli (Vulture) Itzpapalotl South
17 1 Ōlīn (Movement or Earthquake) Xolotl and Tlalchitonatiuh or 4 Ollin East
18 1 Tecpatl (Flint or Knife) Chalchiuhtotolin North
19 1 Quiyahuitl (Rain) Tonatiuh West
20 1 Xōchitl (Flower) Xochiquetzal and Tezcatlipoca South

Gallery of Day Signs[edit]

Note that the symbols are arranged counterclockwise around the calendar stone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "http://dept.sfcollege.edu/HFL/hum2461/lecturenotes/documents/cortmoctedoc01.pdf" (PDF). dept.sfcollege.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-25.  External link in |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonalpohualli — Please support Wikipedia.
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