Tlacatecolotl (MH641r)

Tlacatecolotl (MH641r)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the simplex glyph for the personal name Tlacatecolotl ("Human Horned Owl" or "Sorcerer") shows the head of an animal facing toward the viewer's right. It has a feathered head, two large curving horns on the top of its head, its eye is open, as is its mouth. The upper lip or beak curves up and back. Two large teeth are visible.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

Translations for this unusual name, Tlacatecolotl (which literally means Person-Owl), are often influenced or affected by the lens of the missionaries who wrote the sixteenth-century vocabularies. In our Online Nahuatl Dictionary, one sees translations such as: witch, devil, and demon. A more just translation might have been a native person practicing pre-Columbian religion in colonial times. The rarity of the name is commensurate, perhaps, with the fact that such a person might have had to live a somewhat clandestine life.

Another example of a Tlacatecolotl has been published from the Codex Laud by Dumbarton Oaks, under the title "Sorcery." Examples of the tecolotl (simply owl) and cuauhtecolotl (eagle-owl) often have it with a frontal view of the face, whereas birds (and most people) are typically shown in profile. Frontal views of faces are more common in the representations of the nenetl (deity sculpture or doll). The cuauhtecolotl has similar, squared-off ears or horns like the nenetl. One example of the cuauhtecolotl has short lines emanating from its eyes in way that suggests something supernatural.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 


Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

sorcery, sorcerers, brujos, brujas, demonios, diablos, tecolotes-humanos, buhos-humanos

Glyph or Iconographic Image: 
Relevant Nahuatl Dictionary Word(s): 

tlacatecolo(tl), human horned owl or sorcerer,

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 641r, 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: