olin (TR42r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This example of movement (olin) has been carved from the compound glyph for the place name Tlalolin in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis. It has an X-shape with a golden circle in the middle, and this circle contains a stellar or starry eye, with a red eyelid and pupil and a white iris. To the right and left of the eye are lobes. The X shape is something like two wings. The one on the viewer's left is primarily green with a golden border on the interior edge. The one on the right is primarily blue with the same interior golden border.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Olin is a day sign in the 260-day divinatory calendar (the tonalpohualli). The calendar was a vital part of Nahuas' religious views of the cosmos. Furthermore, the concept of movement (not just in the form of earthquakes) permeates Nahua culture, as James Maffie has described extensively in Aztec Philosophy, 2014. The colors and precise shape of the olin glyph do vary within manuscripts and across them. Another example of olin from this same manuscript shows the addition of a huitztli in as a sort of axis in the middle of the sign.

Sometimes the lobes on the outside of the X are rings with an opening in the middle, but these do not have that opening. The circle in the center does not always contain an eye. The coloring of the X will vary widely, too. The olin glyphs in the Matrícula de Tributos, only black and white, offer another wide range of shapes and designs. Some of these incorporate a rubber ball (olli) as a phonetic complement, and some do not. See below for a few examples.

The shape of the olin glyph is a quincunx, seemingly pointing to the four cardinal points along with a center for a vertical axis that reaches into the heavens and into the underworld.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood


días, calendarios, terremotos, temblores, days, calendars, dates, fechas

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

el movimiento

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 

The Codex Telleriano-Remensis is hosted on line by the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8458267s/f109.item. We have taken this detail shot from the indicated folio.

Image Source, Rights: 

This manuscript is not copyright protected, but please cite Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France or cite this Visual Lexicon of Aztec Hieroglyphs, ed. Stephanie Wood (Eugene, Ore.: Wired Humanities Projects, 2020–present).