tzitzimitl (Mdz67r)

tzitzimitl (Mdz67r)

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This example of iconography is included here to provide a visual for the tzitzimitl (translated by various scholars as a "frightful specter" headdress or "demon helmet") of the warrior Tlacochcalcatl. Lisa Sousa's translation of tzitzimitl seems less charged with bias: "a lesser deity associated with the western sky that could return to earth to torment people" (cited in our Online Nahuatl Dictionary). Even this view, of course, suggests an ability to instill fear. The profile of a skull with curling hair and a wide-open mouth may provide that element. The quetzal and eagle feather headdress and long golden ear ornament do not necessarily instill fear. The face protruding from inside the skull's jaws would be that of the Tlacochcalcatl warrior who is wearing the headdress.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The skull in this image is much more elaborate than the glyphs for miquiztli. See below)

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, or by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

fuerzas divinas, deidades, calaveras, plumas

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

tzitzimi(tl), a lesser deity associated with the western sky that could return to earth to torment people,

Image Source: 

Codex Mendoza, folio 67 recto,, image 144 of 188.

Image Source, Rights: 

Original manuscript is held by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1; used here with the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)