ilacatztli (MH485r)

ilacatztli (MH485r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black and white drawing of the simplex noun for a spiral (ilacatztli) looks a lot like a cutaway or section view of a shell. The spiral is in the upper half. The edges are somewhat scalloped. Hash marks give the shell texture and perhaps an undulating character.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The Gran Diccionario Nahuatl has a vocabulary term much like this one, ecailacatzcozcayo, and Wimmer (2004) translated it (into French) to the effect of "that which bears the spiral pattern of the wind." It may be a stretch, but there are conch shells that, when put up to the ear, one can hear what sounds like wind or ocean waves. The wind is a divine force (Ehecatl) that is recalled by swirls in shells.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content & Iconography: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


spirals, espiroles, conchas, caracoles, conches, shells

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

ilacatz(tli), something rolled up, spiral,
ecailacatzcozcayo, "that which bears the spiral pattern of the wind" (Wimmer 2004, Gran Diccionario Náhuatl)
ilacatzoa, to roll up,
tlamamatla ilacatztli, spiral staircase,

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

El Caracol

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 485r, World Digital Library,

Image Source, Rights: 

This manuscript is hosted by the Library of Congress and the World Digital Library; used here with the Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SAq 3.0)