Anomalies/enigmas of the plant "toloatzin" (and a deity "Tolo")?

Stewart Felker stewart.felker at
Sun Nov 27 19:14:52 UTC 2011

Greetings! New member here; and while I'm really glad to have found this
list, I'm still quite an amateur in Mesoamerican studies--so bear with me.

I'm looking for some insight into the meaning of the Nahuatl name for a
plant (*Datura stramonium*), identified in textual sources as either
"toloatzin" or "tolohuaxihuitl" (Codex de la Cruz-Badiano).

What I am a little confused with is this: I understand that "tōloā" is
simply a verb in its infinitive form, usually translated as "to bow (the
head)," or "to bend"—so at first it would seem that "toloatzin" might be
very literally translated as "the revered to bend." This obviously doesn't
sound right. Is there some rule in Nahuatl nominal formation that allows
for the presence of the infinitive, or its transformation to produce the
normal translation of "toloatzin" that I see—"the revered bended one"?

As an addendum to this, in "tolohuaxihuitl," I understand -xihuitl to
pretty unambiguously signify "herb." Am I also correct to assume that the
-ohua in "tolohua" is simply an transliterative variant of -oa (thus being
the same form as in "toloatzin")—therefore "tolohuaxihuitl" is to be
understood as "the herb, the bended one"?

Finally, while I know that this is addressed in Romero's monograph *El Dios
Tolotzin*, I haven't been able to access it--does anyone have any
information about a deity known as Tolo, and whether he might be considered
a "hypostatized" tolohuaxihuitl?

Best regards,

Stewart Felker (University of Memphis)
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