ocelotl (Mdz52r)

ocelotl (Mdz52r)
Element from a Compound

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This element of a jaguar (ocelotl) has been carved from the compound glyph for the place name Ocelotepec. The jaguar head is in profile, facing to our right. The top of the head is an orange-brown; the lower part and under the chin, the fur is white. The black spots vary in size, about the same size as the eye. The ears are standing up. The jaguar's eye is open, its red tongue is protruding, and it has white teeth and red gums that are also visible.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The word ocelotl normally refers to the jaguar and not the smaller ocelot, which has caused much confusion. The jaguar is an animal that has captivated human attention and imagination in Mesoamerica since time immemorial, first appearing in art forms during pre-Classic times and landing it a place in the Mesoamerican calendar as a day sign. The jaguar has an uncanny ability to hunt on land, in water, and up trees, being both silent and deadly, which apparently led to its eventual link with Aztec warrior society. [For more on the jaguar in Mesoamerican cultures, see the essay by Nicholas Saunders in Mexicolore.]

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood


jaguares, dientes, lenguas

Museum & Rare Book Comparisons: 
Museum/Rare Book Notes: 

ocelotl. This example of stone sculpture iconography is from the Templo Mayor but is in the collection at the Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Salón Mexica. Photograph by Robert Haskett, 14 February 2023.

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


Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el jaguar

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 
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).