Xolotl (Mdz13v)

Xolotl (Mdz13v)
Simplex Glyph

Glyph or Iconographic Image Description: 

This simplex glyph for Xolotl (the deity and/or ancestor-ruler that is typically presented as part human, part dog) is quite different from the other one we offer. This one is also outlined in black, but is painted with multiple colors. It is a head in profile facing to our left. It is a dog head with wrinkles that recall the anthropomorphic aging process. Further, the Mexican hairless dog called the xoloitzcuintli has wrinkles. There is a black line (face paint? a tattoo?) cutting the head in half vertically and running behind the one eye that we can see. The eye is white with a large black pupil. Above the eye is what may be a turquoise-colored eyebrow. On top of the head are two protrusions, squared off, and painted yellow. The face is largely painted yellow, too, but the nose is turquoise. The mouth is open and four of the teeth are painted red. The ear is painted the same tan-flesh tone as in the other xolotl sign we include in this database. Below the ear is a white earring. The top part of the earring consists of two concentric circles, the outer one being white and the inner one being black with red paint over it.

Description, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Added Analysis: 

In this simplex glyph for the deity Xolotl, the dog-like appearance and the colors are significant. The yellow, turquoise, white, and red are all referenced in the Florentine Codex (Book 8, Kings and Lords) in these descriptions: "The Xolotl head of yellow parrot feathers, with balls of quetzal feathers, was ornamented with gold. With it belonged a shirt of yellow parrot feathers with hawk scratch decorations in gold. The blue Xolotl head was ornamented with quetzal feathers and gold. With it belonged a blue shirt. The white Xolotl head was ornamented with quetzal feathers and gold. With it belonged a white shirt. The bright red Xolotl head was ornamented with quetzal feathers and gold; its shirt was likewise bright red." [Source: Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain; Book 8 -- Kings and Lords, no. 14, Part IX, eds. and transl. Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble (Santa Fe and Salt Lake City: School of American Research and the University of Utah, 1951), 34.] This glyph also offers some overlap with representations of old men and therefore perhaps the ancestor-ruler of 200 years that Chimalpahin mentions, given the wrinkles (xolochtic).

Note the museum comparison image below with the prominent teeth, the lines of wrinkles on the facem\ and the ear ornament. From the angle of the photograph it is difficult to tell if the two rectangular protrusions at the top and back of the dog's head are solid or possibly have the cuts in them that are visible in the glyph. One thing this carving has that is different from this glyph is the protruding tongue.

The rectangular protrusions on the top of the Xolotl head are reminiscent of the similar shapes on the portrayals of sculptures of divine forces in some of the glyphs of the nenetl. (See below.)

Added Analysis, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Source Manuscript: 
Date of Manuscript: 

c. 1541, but by 1553 at the latest

Creator's Location (and place coverage): 

Mexico City

Semantic Categories: 
Cultural Content, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Shapes and Perspectives: 
SVG of Glyph: 
SVG Image, Credit: 

David Elliot


old men, aging, viejos, envejecimiento, dogs, perros, deidades, wrinkled, arrugado,
ancestors, deities, divinities, divinidades, fuerzas divinas, rulers, canines, xiuhpohualli, año, turquesa, xihuitl

Museum & Rare Book Comparisons: 
Museum/Rare Book Notes: 

Xolotl. Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Salón Mexica. Photograph by Stephanie Wood, 14 February 2023.

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

Xolotl, deity and/or ancestor-ruler, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/Xolotl
xoloitzcuin(tli), a native Mexican nearly hairless dog, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xoloitzcuintli
xoloch(tic), wrinkled, https://nahuatl.wired-humanities.org/content/xolochtic

Glyph/Icon Name, Spanish Translation: 

el ancestro o la deidad Xolotl

Spanish Translation, Credit: 

Stephanie Wood

Image Source: 
Image Source, Rights: 

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, hold the original manuscript, the MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1. This image is published here under the UK Creative Commons, “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License” (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0).