Itzpapalotl (MH594v)

Itzpapalotl (MH594v)
Compound Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the compound glyph for the personal name Itzpapalotl (“Obsidian Butterfly,” attested here as a man’s name) represents a female divine force. The glyph shows a profile view of a butterfly (papalotl) facing toward the reader's right. Its body is apparently made of obsidian (itztli). The viewer can see one antenna, which spirals upward. The wings have two sections. The wings are white, but they have some lines that may be veins. The wings also have a simple line that creates a border on the outside edges.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie WoodI

Added Analysis: 

The use of an obsidian blade for the body of the itzpapalotl represents a phonetic dimension, in that the body would not really have been made from this material. Rather, it is meant to provide a phonetic start to the word, Itz- (from itztli).

There was a Mexica captain called Itzpapalotl who took part in early battles during the Spanish invasion and seizure of power. He is mentioned in Book 12 of the Florentine Codex. [See: Digital Florentine Codex,]

Ian Mursell of Mexicolore writes about a divine force called Itzpapalotl: "Clearly Itzpapalotl was a fearsome female deity, associated not only with the Chichimecs but with fire, war, knife sacrifice, with the paradise of Tamoanchan, with the souls of brave dead warriors, with Mixcoatl and with the calendrical day sign Vulture. When she was killed, her body burst into a shower of coloured stones - one source suggests just five flint knives (one of which becomes White Mixcoatl)."

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

juā ytzpapalotl

Gloss Normalization: 

Juan Itzpapalotl

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Parts (compounds or simplex + notation): 
Reading Order (Compounds or Simplex + Notation): 

butterflies, mariposas, obsidiana, insectos, obsidian, insects

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 
Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

Mariposa de Obsidiana

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 594v, 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).

Historical Contextualizing Image: