Nahual (MH509r)

Nahual (MH509r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the simplex glyph for the personal name Nahual (short for nahualli, a shape-shifting animal spirit that a person would acquire). The animal in this glyph resembles a worm or a caterpillar. It is seemingly tubular, with a curve to it. It is segmented, striped, and has some shading.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Another example of this conceptual glyph in the Matrícula de Huexotzinco also has what may be a worm with a war shield at the front of it.

Nahuales were perceived as "form-changing shamans" (in the words of James Maffie, 2013, 39), sometimes taking on the attributes or abilities of animals, such as a jaguar, and becoming that creature as a "temporary incarnation of cosmic reality" (Maffie, 40, citing Raymond Fogelson). The term nahualli can refer to the shamanic power of transformation or it can refer to the being into which the shaman transforms, such as an animal, according to James Maffie (Aztec Philosophy, 2014, 38.)

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

Diego Nahual

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Hasket-Wood


nahuales, idiomas, lenguaje

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

El Nahual

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 509r, 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: