Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations


Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



Tico, tico, toco, toto, auh ic ontlantiuh cuicatl, tiqui, ti ti,

tito, titi.

Tico, tico, toco, toto, and as the song approaches the end, tiqui,

titi, tito, titi.

1. Tollan aya huapalcalli manca, nozan in mamani coatlaquetzalli

yaqui yacauhtehuac Nacxitl Topiltzin, onquiquiztica ye choquililo in

topilhuan ahuay yeyauh in polihuitiuh nechcan Tlapallan ho ay.

1. At Tollan there stood the house of beams, there yet stands the

house of plumed serpents left by Nacxitl Topiltzin; going forth

weeping, our nobles went to where he was to perish, down there at


2. Nechcayan Cholollan oncan tonquizaya Poyauhtecatitlan, in

quiyapanhuiya y Acallan anquiquiztica ye choquililon ye.

2. We went forth from Cholula by way of Poyauhtecatl, and ye went

forth weeping down by the water toward Acallan.

3. Nonohualco ye nihuitz ye nihui quecholi nimamaliteuctla,

nicnotlamatia oyah quin noteuc ye ihuitimali, nechya icnocauhya

nimatlac xochitl, ayao ayao o ayya y yao ay.

3. I come from Nonohualco as if I carried quechol birds to the place

of the nobles; I grieve that my lord has gone, garlanded with

feathers; I am wretched like the last flower.

4. In tepetl huitomica niyaychocaya, axaliqueuhca nicnotlamatiya o

yaquin noteuc (etc. as v. 3).

4. With the falling down of mountains I wept, with the lifting up of

sands I was wretched, that my lord had gone.

5. In Tlapallan aya mochieloca monahuatiloca ye cochiztla o anca ca

zanio ayao, ayao, ayao.

5. At Tlapallan he was waited for, it was commanded that there he

should sleep, thus being alone.

6. Zan tiyaolinca ye noteuc ic ihuitimali, tinahuatiloya ye Xicalanco

o anca zacanco.

6. In our battles my lord was garlanded with feathers; we were

commanded to go alone to Xicalanco.

7. Ay yanco ay yanco ayamo aya ayhuiya ayanco ayyanco ayamo aye

ahuiya que ye mamaniz mocha moquiapana, oquen ye mamaniz

moteuccallatic ya icnocauhqui nican Tollan Nonohualco ya y ya y ya o


7. Alas! and alas! who will be in thy house to attire thee? Who will

be the ruler in thy house, left desolate here in Tollan, in


8. In ye quinti chocaya teuctlon, timalon que ye mamaniz mochan (etc.

as v. 7).

8. After he was drunk, the ruler wept; we glorified ourselves to be

in thy dwelling.

9. In tetl, in quahuitl o on timicuilotehuac nachcan Tollan y inon

can in otontlatoco Naxitl Topiltzin y aye polihuiz ye motoca ye ic ye

chocaz in momacehual ay yo.

9. Misfortune and misery were written against us there in Tollan,

that our leader Nacxitl Topiltzin was to be destroyed and thy

subjects made to weep.

10. Zan can xiuhcalliya cohuacallaya in oticmatehuac nachcan Tollan y

inon can yn otontlatoco Naxitl Topiltzin (etc. as in v. 9).

10. We have left the turquoise houses, the serpent houses there in

Tollan, where ruled our leader Nacxitl Topiltzin.


At this portion of the MS. several poems are preceded by a line of

syllables indicating their accompaniment on the teponaztli (see

Introduction, p. 32).

The present number is one of the most noteworthy songs of the

collection. It belongs to the ancient cyclus of Quetzalcoatl myths,

and gives a brief relation of the destruction of Tollan and the

departure and disappearance of the Light God, Quetzalcoatl Ce Acatl.

As I have elsewhere collated this typical myth at length, and

interpreted it according to the tenets of modern mythologic science,

I shall not dwell upon it here (see D.G. Brinton, American Hero

Myths, Phila., 1882).

The text of the poem is quite archaic, and presents many

difficulties. But my translation, I think, gives the general sense


1. huapalcalli; literally, “the house constructed of beams.” This

name was applied to the chief temple of the Toltecs; the ruins of an

ancient structure at Tollantzinco were pointed out at the time of the

Conquest as those of this building (see Sahagun, Hist. de la Nueva

Espaсa, Lib. X, cap. 29).

coatlaquetzalli; this edifice, said to have been left incomplete by

Quetzalcoatl, when he forsook Tollan, had pillars in the form of a

serpent, the head at the base, the tail at the top of the pillar.

(See Orozco y Berra, Hist. Antigua de Mexico, Tom. III, pp. 30 and

46.) The structure is mentioned as follows in the Anales de


Auh iniquac nemia Quetzalcoatl quitzintica, quipeuahtica iteocal

quimaman coatlaquetzali ihuan amo quitzonquixti, amo quipantlaz.”

“And when Quetzalcoatl was living, he began and commenced the temple

of his which is the Coatlaquetzali (Serpent Plumes), and he did not

finish it, he did not fully erect it.”

Nacxitl Topiltzin, “Our Lord the four-footed.” Nacxitl appears to

have been the name of Quetzalcoatl, in his position as lord of the

merchants. Compare Sahagun, ubi supra, Lib. I, cap. 19.

2. Poyauhtecatl, a volcano near Orizaba, mentioned by Sahagun.

Acallan, a province bordering on the Laguna de los Terminos. The

myth reported that Quetzalcoatl journeyed to the shores of the Gulf

about the isthmus of Tehuantepec and there disappeared.

3. Nonohualco; the reference is to the cerro de Nonoalco, which

plays a part in the Quetzalcoatl myth. The words of the song are

almost those of Tezcatlipoca when he is introduced to Quetzalcoatl.

Asked whence he came, he replied, “Nihuitz in Nonohualcatepetl

itzintla, etc.” (Anales de Cuauhtitlan).

4. The occurrences alluded to are the marvels performed by

Quetzalcoatl on his journey from Tulan. See my American Hero Myths,

p. 115.

5. The departure of Quetzalcoatl was because he was ordered to repair

to Tlapallan, supposed to be beyond Xicalanco.

8. quinti, for iquintia; the reference is to the magic draught

given Quetzalcoatl by Tezcatlipoca.

9. In tetl, in quahuitl; literally, “stone and stick;” a very

common phrase in Nahautl, to signify misfortunes.

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