Olin (MH491r)

Olin (MH491r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of a simplex glyph for the personal name Olin ("Movement" or "Earthquake") features a shape something like a butterfly with a vertical center axis (with a small circle in the middle) and a wing-like shape on each side of the central axis. The wings also have spiky lines going out, away from the center.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Olin was a day name in the 260-day divinatory calendar called the tonalpohualli in Nahuatl. This calendar had a role in various Mesoamerican religions, including the Mixtec. The overall shape of this movement symbol is something like a quincunx, or X shape with a round center. The small lines coming off the "wings" may be there to suggest fluttering (movement). Movement is part of the conceptualization of the universe, often associated with the movement of the sun. A link to the celestial realm may be supported by the olin glyph on folio 40 recto of the Codex Mendoza, which has a starry eye at the center of its X shape.

See James Maffie (Aztec Philosophy, 2014, 238–240) for a detailed discussion of the olin glyph and its iconography, drawing from a number of studies. The four cardinal points are clearly represented, along with an important center, linked to the motion of the sun. Motion-change is a key theme, especially as it all relates to the changing ages or eras (culminating in the Fifth Sun). Maffie (2014, 232) also discusses numerous connections between olin and butterflies.

In some contexts, the flutter of a butterfly is connected to the flickering of flames. [See Peter T. Markman and ‎Roberta H. Markman, Masks of the Spirit (1989), 148.] Butterflies and hummingbirds (whose wings have remarkably quick movements) can be found to have solar connections in various Mesoamerican ethnographies.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 

diego ollin

Gloss Normalization: 

Diego Olin

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzinco, Puebla

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

José Aguayo-Barragán and Stephanie Wood


movimiento, mariposas

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

El Movimiento

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 491r, World Digital Library. https://www.loc.gov/resource/gdcwdl.wdl_15282/?sp=61&st=image

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: