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date: 29 February 2020


  • John M. Schechter
  • , revised by J. Richard Haefer


In modern Nahutl, a generic term for an Aztec flute. Traditionally it was a ceramic globular vessel flute. Stanford equates it with the flute çoçoloctli. Clay huilacapitztli have been found up to 20 cm in diameter and with five to eight tone holes. More developed examples are found throughout Central America. It was played together with the tlapitzalli by ‘Adonis’ (the Aztec sacrificial young man) as he ascended the steps of the pyramid for sacrifice.

The tlapitzalli is an Aztec end-blown flute, usually made of clay but sometimes of wood or bone. It is found in various shapes (straight, curved, Y-shape) and sizes from 15 to 35 cm long. The proximal end has a duct mouthpiece and the distal end is often flared. It can have up to four bores which can be blown together or separately. The body might be painted with images of Aztec dieties or decorated with three-dimensional figures. Traditionally it was blown by priests at solemn ceremonies, and Montezuma is said to have been entertained by one while eating. Adonis played the ...

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Yearbook, Inter-American Institute for Musical Research, later Yearbook for Inter-American Musical Research