Query: cuilote

Frye, David dfrye at UMICH.EDU
Mon Nov 24 04:24:42 UTC 2003

> A colleague of mine in transcribing an interview he did recently with a
> 100-year-old man in Ozumba. At one point, his informant states that he "built a
> house of zacate and cuilote." Can anyone shed light on either the materials or
> the implied method of construction?

Once more I recommend Francisco Santamaria's Diccionario de mejicanismos, which has the following on cuilote:
Cuilote (?Del mex. quiyotl tallo de yerba? MOL.) m. Vara seca, más o menos guresa, que sirve para formar paredes de chozas, que luego se embarran, hacer setos, y también zarzos que en climas calientes sierven de cama.
Note, Frances Karttunen's Analytical Dictionary has "cuilO-tl, stick/palo (T)." Molina has "quiyotl, talla de yerva o de verdura, &c." The latter has got to be the same as quiote, the name for the huge flowering stem of the maguey, which was used in San Luis Potosi (and probably elsewhere) for construction, and was the main framing post for jacales back when people still made them, not too long ago. 
The way jacales were built up in SLP was this: an A-frame was built of maguey quiotes; a roofing frame of the thinner lechuguilla quiotes was tied to the sides of the A-frame; and maguey leaves (pencas), softened in a fire, were woven into the roofing frame like roof tiles. I suppose if a pueblo had the right kind of grass to use for thatch, they would use that instead of the pencas de maguey, but the rest of the frame would probably be the same.
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