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Tlaxilacalli, a territorial subdivision of the Nahua Altepetl (provincial unit) before and after the Spanish invasion. It was the main holder and distributor of land to its citizens, who paid tribute through tlaxilacalli officials. Often grouped in units of four, six, or eight within a single altepetl, the tlaxilacalli had its own religious structure and marketplace, and was itself subdivided into smaller districts. The term has a very similar meaning to the better-known and more-studied Calpulli, and there seems to have been some regional variation in the application of the terms; a definitive conclusion about their exact relationship and usage awaits further research.

See alsoCalpulli; Nahuas.


The meaning and structure of tlaxilacalli are discussed in several works, among them Pedro Carrasco, "Social Organization of Ancient Mexico," in Archaeology of Northern Mesoamerica. Pt. 1, Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 10, edited by Gordon F. Ekholm and Ignacio Bernal (1971), pp. 363-368; Edward Calnek, "The Internal Structure of Tenochtitlán," in Ancient Mesoamerica, edited by John A. Graham (1976), pp. 337-338; Rudolf Van Zantwijk, The Aztec Arrangement: The Social History of Pre-Spanish Mexico (1985), pp. 249ff.; Susan Schroeder, Chimalpahin and the Kingdoms of Chalco (1991); and James Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Spanish Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries (1992).

Additional Bibliography

San Anton Domingo, Francisco de, and Chimalpahin Munon Quauhtlehuanitzin. Society and Politics in Mexico: Tenochtitlan, Tlatelolco, Texcoco, Culhuacan, and Other Nahua Altepetl in Central Mexico. Ed. Arthur J. O. Anderson, Susan Schroeder, and Wayne Ruwet. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Tinajero Morales, José Omar. Imá genes del silencio: Iconología de Tepetlaoztoc. México: D.F.: Centro de Estudios del Acolhuacan Santo Domingo Portacoeli, 2002.

                                  Robert Haskett