Xilotl (MH507v)

Xilotl (MH507v)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This black-line drawing of the simplex glyph for a small, tender ear of maize (xilotl) doubles as the personal name for a woman, María Xilotl of the Huexotzinco area. The corn cob is upright, still in its wrapping or husk, with small leaves at its base, and a tassel or cluster of silks leaning toward the viewer's left.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

The warrior's hairstyle (see below), with the curving tzontli going off the top of the head, is somewhat reminiscent of the way corn silk bends over from the top of a cob of corn.

That this agricultural product was at the very heart of Nahua culture, a most basic source of sustenance, is reflected in the fact that a female divine force or sacred ancestor was named Xilonen. The particular glyph here attests that Xilotl could be used as a woman's name, but our Online Nahuatl Dictionary provides examples of it as a name used by men and women and from different regions.

The term and name Xilotl is much more common than Elotl in this collection. Perhaps the name Xilotl, which refers to the corn cob that was still forming kernels, was more akin to a new baby (as a metaphor) than Elotl, which had already formed its kernels.

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Gloss Image: 
Gloss Diplomatic Transcription: 


Gloss Normalization: 

María Xilotl

Gloss Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Date of Manuscript: 


Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Huejotzingo, Puebla, Mexico

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Jeff Haskett-Wood and Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 

maíz, maize, corn, ears, cobs, mazorcas

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

xilo(tl), small, tender ear of green maize, before it solidifies, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xilotl

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

Mazorca Tierna, Jilote, Elote

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Diego de Durán (1579), quoted by the Gran Diccionario Náhuatl

Image Source: 

Matrícula de Huexotzinco, folio 507v, World Digital Library, https://www.loc.gov/resource/gdcwdl.wdl_15282/?sp=94&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: