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Mexican wooden armadillo toy

Armadillo

One of the very few creatures in the Americas whose living area is actually expanding instead of decreasing, the humble and gentle armadillo has a long but little known pedigree in Mesoamerican folklore - and sparked a craze in Europe, where ‘more than any other animal, the armadillo was responsible for the appearance of early modern curiosity and wonder’ (John Beusterien). In ancient Mesoamerica, it was a symbol of fertility and abundance of food... (Written by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Pic 1: All armadillo species are native to the Americas
Pic 1: All armadillo species are native to the Americas (Click on image to enlarge)

I’ve never seen a Jaguar
Nor yet an Armadill-
O dilloing in his armour,
And I s’pose I never will...
- Rudyard Kipling, 1902.

There are 21 extant species of armadillo - members of the Dasypodidae family, one of three branches (like sloths and anteaters) of the Xenarthran ‘superorder’ of mammals that first appeared in South America 60 million years ago - all exclusive and native to the Americas. Solitary, nocturnal creatures, armadillos are generally insectivores, foraging - in warm, moist wetlands, rainforests and grasslands - for large quantities of grub-like beetles, larvae, ants, spiders, and much more... They have a life expectancy of around 10-15 years. Ranging in size from around 6 inches (Pink Fairy) to almost 60 inches (Giant) in length, armadillos are superlative and super fast diggers. Generally harmless to humans, they’re one of the few mammals on the planet susceptible to leprosy, making them key subjects for scientific study. Mercifully, leprosy has all but been eradicated in human beings.

Pic 2: Traditional clay armadillo-designed stamp from the Veracruz region of Mexico
Pic 2: Traditional clay armadillo-designed stamp from the Veracruz region of Mexico (Click on image to enlarge)

No other mammal has a fully developed jointed shell (‘carapace’) made up of bony ‘scutes’ covered by a horny shield coated in keratin, giving it a naturally hard protective cover - one shield in front and another in the back, with several moveable bands in between and the tail in a tubular sheath (Kurstén, 1988). Capable of running at up to 30 mph, armadillos can escape danger by running and digging into burrows, hiding under their shells, and jumping 3-4 feet into the air. Contrary to popular belief, only one species (the three-banded) can roll itself completely into a ball. Others, such as the nine-banded (which in fact can have from 8-11 bands), can also swim, being able to hold its breath (filling both lungs and gut with air) for up to six minutes while crawling along the bottom of riverbeds. South American species can be very hairy. Great survivors, armadillos may sleep for up to 16 hours a day. They have poor eyesight but a powerful sense of smell.
Until the mid-19th century armadillos could be found anywhere from Patagonia in Argentina to northern Mexico; today their range extends as far as Nebraska in the United States, and is still expanding (see pic 3).

Pic 3: The 9-banded armadillo and its geographical range in North America - shown in dark grey, with predicted future range in light grey; map from Shapiro et al (2014)
Pic 3: The 9-banded armadillo and its geographical range in North America - shown in dark grey, with predicted future range in light grey; map from Shapiro et al (2014) (Click on image to enlarge)

One of the largest armadillo species, found in 27 (central and southern) of Mexico’s 32 states - particularly Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas - is the 9-banded variety, Dasypus novemcinctus.
According to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, above central Mexico armadillos are primarily found only along the coasts (pic 3) - presumably because the interior of the country is too dry.
One of its special characteristics - and a clue to its breeding success - lies in the fact that every female of the species always gives birth to four genetically identical pups.
Those two numbers (nine and four) have for centuries been considered symbolic and sacred in Mesoamerica - associated respectively with the nine levels of the underworld and the four cardinal directions, inter alia. Emery (personal communication, 2021) reports that still today ‘armadillo skins are used to treat a range of women’s and children’s ailments (sometimes using baths which require 9 dunkings)’ - a practice that reminds us of the age-old Maya rite-of-passage ceremony called Hetzmek, in which the godparents ritually circle a table nine times holding the godchild.

Pic 4: ‘They danced the Armadillo’ - illustration by Dennis Tedlock
Pic 4: ‘They danced the Armadillo’ - illustration by Dennis Tedlock (Click on image to enlarge)

As they struggle to survive in very cold/dry conditions (most of the insects they eat require rapidly rotting wood or deep, moist soil), armadillos predominate(d) more in warm lowland Maya rather than Aztec territory, but their unusual features ensured them a place in the mythology and folklore of Mesoamerican cultures generally - from creation stories to modern folk tales and songs. For the Chinantec people of NW Oaxaca, the armadillo received its scaly form from a goddess who, running late for a party to give birth to the world, hastily threw her weaving loom over her back, sticks and all: ‘When the Sun had risen, the armadillo’s blouse was not yet finished, and she didn’t know what to do. Finally she put it on, half-finished, with all the shuttles she was using to weave it still on it. That is why the armadillo has a shell’ (López Austin, 1993: 344, and 2018). The armadillo appears on ancient ceramic vessels, incense burner heads, wheeled animal effigies, ocarinas, masks, in dance narratives, and in the pages of Maya codices. In the Popol Vuh, the Hero Twins dress as vagabonds and, called to appear before the Lords of Xibalbá, they dance the Poorwill, Weasel and the Armadillo (pic 4), before succeeding in tricking the evil rulers of the underworld.

Pic 5: Armadillo masks used in traditional Mexican dances in Guerrero
Pic 5: Armadillo masks used in traditional Mexican dances in Guerrero (Click on image to enlarge)

The spirit of the armadillo is evoked today, through sympathetic magic, in the wearing of wooden masks with armadillo hide in the Mexican state of Guerrero in a dance long associated with an annual plea for good crops and rain, in May, traditionally a key maize-planting month - the presence of the armadillo in the dance was ‘designed to guarantee the fertility of the just-planted corn’ (Cordry 1980: 387). For good reason the armadillo, like the rabbit, carried strong associations with fertility. Indeed, the word for armadillo in the language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl, is ayotochtli, generally translated as ‘gourd-rabbit’ or, more accurately, ‘turtle-rabbit’. The entry for armadillo in Book XI of the Florentine Codex makes this clear: ‘it is called ayotochtli because its head is just like a rabbit’s... and... it has a shell; like the turtle it goes enveloped in its shell’ (see an image of an armadillo in the Codex by following the second link, below).

Pic 6: Examples of armadillo shell baskets (top L: Brighton Museum); top R: source unknown; centre and bottom: British Museum collections
Pic 6: Examples of armadillo shell baskets (top L: Brighton Museum); top R: source unknown; centre and bottom: British Museum collections (Click on image to enlarge)

The connection with gourds should not be overlooked, however. Traditionally gourd containers formed out of armadillo carapaces (shells) were and are (British Museum online) used (pic 6 centre - a modern example from Cuetzalán, Puebla state) for carrying corn seeds when planting maize, the armadillo being associated since ancient times with success in agriculture (Beusterien 2020). Indeed, armadillos feature some 18 times in two of the four extant Maya codices (Madrid and Dresden). The latter contains a hieroglyphic text that mentions ‘Lady Earth, wife of armadillo; “abundance of food”?’ (mayacodices.org).
In the Madrid, an armadillo is depicted several times in the contexts of hunting, predictions of food abundance in an almanac, and initiating a section on apiculture (beekeeping).

Pic 7: An armadillo opens a section on beekeeping in the Codex Madrid (page 103)
Pic 7: An armadillo opens a section on beekeeping in the Codex Madrid (page 103) (Click on image to enlarge)

In page 103 of the Madrid (pic 7), bees are depicted in huts with thatched roofs similar to those used to house bees. In these scenes bees descend on an armadillo which, according to the text, is intent on stealing the honey. The bee is related here to Itzamná, an important and old Maya creator god. The playful role of the armadillo is anecdotal to the significance of the scenes - the association with abundance (as the text says ‘Itzamná’s bees produce [honey] with abundance’), providing an augury pointing to a future of plenty...

Pic 8: An armadillo on a reed mat facing the Maya Young Earth Goddess (lower section); Codex Madrid, page 92
Pic 8: An armadillo on a reed mat facing the Maya Young Earth Goddess (lower section); Codex Madrid, page 92 (Click on image to enlarge)

The same theme, of abundance of food and drink, runs through the scenes on page 92 (pic 8). The Young Earth Goddess Ix Kab’ can be seen kneeling on a petate (reed mat), her hand outstretched towards an armadillo, who sits close to and facing her on the petate. In Mixtec codices, two figures sitting together on a reed mat signifies marriage. The next scene involves a deer in an identical position.
There is no doubt that armadillo meat was - and remains - an important and popular source of protein for the Maya (Coe 1994: 156), just as it was for Teotihuacanos before them (Sugiyama, Valadez Azúa & Rodríguez Galicia, 2017). As such, armadillos were under the protection of Maya hunt deities known as Sip (Vail, 2021, personal communication). Depictions of Maya markets in mural paintings show a vibrant market economy, with armadillos among a range of faunal products on offer (ibid: 67). A recent study of ancient hunting shrines in Guatemala found that bone caches of armadillos were the next most common after deer and peccaries (Brown 2006). Armadillo meat and fat are still used today in the regions of Oaxaca and Veracruz in the preparation of tamales and spicy mole sauce. The flesh can be cooked on a low heat whilst still in the shell, and is then easily removed, the shell serving as a bowl.

Pic 9: An armadillo in a hunting trap; drawing by Donald Cordry based on an image in the Madrid Codex (page 48)
Pic 9: An armadillo in a hunting trap; drawing by Donald Cordry based on an image in the Madrid Codex (page 48) (Click on image to enlarge)

The French Franciscan priest/explorer André Thevet described armadillo meat in the 1550s as ‘the softest that I have ever tasted in all my life’ (Beusterien 2020: 121). Armadillo stew is still today considered a delicacy, fried in strips and then stewed, served with sliced sweet green peppers (García Rivas 1991). Each region of the country has its own local name for the meat, such as toche in Veracruz.

Pic 10: The glyph for the Aztec tributary town of Ayutuchco; Codex Mendoza fol. 51v (detail)
Pic 10: The glyph for the Aztec tributary town of Ayutuchco; Codex Mendoza fol. 51v (detail) (Click on image to enlarge)

We know that the Mexica (Aztecs) also enjoyed armadillo meat (de Montellano 1990: 115). A tributary town of Ayutuchco (‘On the Armadillo’) in the province of Tlatlauhquitepec (eastern Sierra Madre) (pic 10) is noted in the Codex Mendoza for providing annual tribute as clothing (some worked with rabbit fur) and honey to the Aztec capital.
Moreover, we also know that armadillos were and are today used for medicinal purposes in different parts of the continent: Fernández Ledesma (1944) reports a preparation from the shell believed to treat whooping cough; Chloe Sayer (British Museum online) has recorded a herbalist in the state of Mexico who grinds armadillo shells to powder, mixes it with water and boils the infusion, which is drunk as a ritual healing remedy, or the shell is worn as a good luck amulet; armadillo tail was (and still is) ground to make pills to cure earache in Brazil (Beusterien 2020) and among the Choco people of Panama (British Museum online); armadillo blood is reputed to have asthma-curing properties (Quetzeri Santiago, 2019); and in the Huasteca region of Mexico the armadillo is believed to have properties that help prevent pulmonary illnesses (de la Cruz 2021, personal communication). However we should stress that no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of these folk remedies has as yet been put forward.

Pic 11: Armadillo-shaped ceramic jar from the Upper Motagua River Valley, Guatemala, c. 672-830 CE, shown inverted (top). Kerr database ref. K4919
Pic 11: Armadillo-shaped ceramic jar from the Upper Motagua River Valley, Guatemala, c. 672-830 CE, shown inverted (top). Kerr database ref. K4919 (Click on image to enlarge)

Not surprisingly, the unusual form of the armadillo appealed to artists working not only on (fig tree bark) paper but also with pottery. Ancient armadillo-shaped ceramic ocarinas have been found in Central America (see an example in our major feature on ocarinas - link below) and on vessels, such as the globular vase from Guatemala shown in picture 11: the armadillo shape is beautifully combined with the shape of the vase, ‘the two becoming one... when you invert this jar, it becomes the body of an armadillo, whose sculpted and carved body curls around the body of the vessel from rim to rim’ (Reents-Budet 1994: 344).

Pic 12: ‘Still-life with Rarities’ by Jan van der Heyden, 1712
Pic 12: ‘Still-life with Rarities’ by Jan van der Heyden, 1712 (Click on image to enlarge)

What perhaps may come as a surprise is the extent to which the humble armadillo caught the attention of Europeans after its introduction from America. Whilst live ones rarely survived the journey across the Atlantic (Cortés is said to have brought one with him, alongside jaguars and other exotica, as a gift for King Carlos V of Spain when he returned from the Americas in 1528, but the first firm record of a live one reaching Spain isn’t found until the 18th century), stuffed ones or armadillo carapaces caused a veritable sensation from the beginning. In the early modern period the armadillo was considered ‘the primary faunal oddity from the Americas’ (Beusterien 2017: 28), ending up in a goodly number of ‘cabinets of curiosities’ as a symbol of America. Why? Because ‘it reminded Europeans of their prized armoured war horse’ (ibid: 35).

Pic 13: The armadillo - appendix page 20, ‘Historiae animalium’ by Swiss physician Conrad Gessner (1551–1558)
Pic 13: The armadillo - appendix page 20, ‘Historiae animalium’ by Swiss physician Conrad Gessner (1551–1558) (Click on image to enlarge)

It was a Spanish natural historian, Nicolás Monardes, who coined the word armadillo, in the 1571 edition of his book Primera y segunda y tercera partes de la Historia medicinal, de las cosas que se traen de nuestras Indias Occidentales (‘Medicinal History of the Things Brought from Our West Indies’), for which he added a new chapter, titled ‘Del Armadillo’. (The word armadillo would enter the English language in 1577). In Spanish it means literally ‘little armoured one’, but the implication was ‘little armoured horse’. Monardes named the animal in this way after seeing a stuffed armadillo in the ‘museum’ (cabinet of curiosities) of Gonzalo Argote de Molina in Seville, perceiving it as a miniature version of a European armoured horse, endowed with armour by nature (Beusterien 2020).

Pic 14: Line drawing of an armadillo by Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (1944)
Pic 14: Line drawing of an armadillo by Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (1944) (Click on image to enlarge)

Argote had included an armadillo - alongside other animals and birds from the Indies - to help turn his collection into a ‘theatre of the world’. Monardes chose the armadillo, out of all the myriad creatures from the New World, to represent America; in depicting the armadillo as an amazing, somewhat monstrous but diminutive, ‘horse-like creature naturally encased in armour’ (ibid: 140), Monardes contributed to the unconscious belittling of America in the eyes of Europeans.
This begins to make more sense when we consider that, in Europe at this time armour was often the most expensive and ‘showy’ object on display in cabinets of curiosity: the Spanish word for cabinet or wardrobe - armario - means precisely an ‘armour cabinet’.

Pic 15: Woodcut by Hans Burgkmair depicting Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1508)
Pic 15: Woodcut by Hans Burgkmair depicting Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1508) (Click on image to enlarge)

At this point we should introduce on the scene another important Spanish protagonist in the story of the armadillo’s entry into Europe: in 1570 King Phillip II also visited Argote’s museum - and saw the animal dubbed armadillo by Monardes. Not only was Phillip an avid collector of armour, but his other favourite collectible was horses. Put the two together and you had the ultimate in prestige dress artefacts: ‘In riding an armoured horse, the grandeur of the monarch or aristocrat was further heightened by a dual combination of armour and animal, creating a magnificent hybrid creature’ (Beusterien 2017: 37). And which European country was the leading producer and exhibiter of horse armour at the time? Spain! Little wonder, then, that Europeans were so eager to see animals that displayed armour, naturally. Armour was worn by rulers for portraits and pageantry - ideally, riding an armoured horse - see, for example, the Equestrian Portrait of the Emperor Maximilian I, 1508, by Hans Burgkmair the elder (pic 15).

Pic 16: Armadillos ‘represent’ America: 16th-17th century engravings by de Los/Collaerte (L) and Bella (R)
Pic 16: Armadillos ‘represent’ America: 16th-17th century engravings by de Los/Collaerte (L) and Bella (R) (Click on image to enlarge)

Armour converted its wearer into an ‘inhabited statue’, providing a new ‘second skin’, ensuring that his skin and body ‘fused’ with that of the horse beneath him. It isn’t difficult to empathise with natives of the American continent on first seeing armoured Spanish invaders on horseback...
One of the most widely distributed images of an armadillo in the 16th century was that by Flemish artist Maarten de Vos c.1589, entitled simply ‘America’ and engraved by Adriaen Collaerte (pic 16, left). Depicting a now domesticated ‘horse’ ridden by a woman, it began to appear in books and maps, and on household items of all kinds, including pottery tiles, silver tankards, even playing cards. It inspired artist Stefano della Bella (‘Amérique’, c.1644) to give the creature a similar treatment - this time with two armadillos pulling a chariot (pic 16, right) - an image which ended up on a playing card designed to teach the young Louis XV geography and history!

Pic 17: An armadillo shell forms the soundbox of a Mexican ‘concha’ guitar, played by Concheros musicians/dancers
Pic 17: An armadillo shell forms the soundbox of a Mexican ‘concha’ guitar, played by Concheros musicians/dancers (Click on image to enlarge)

In Latin America, meanwhile, whilst the introduction from Spain of the stringed instrument was accepted enthusiastically, in highland areas where trees may be sparse but armadillos plentiful, local musicians and artisans took to harnessing armadillo shells as ready-made, free and effective soundboxes in the making of hybrid guitars. Generally having five pairs of (ten) strings, the charango is today an essential instrument in any traditional Andean conjunto or folk group, and in Mexico the concha (Spanish for shell) gives its name to the Concheros, dancers who play conchas (pic 17) at the same time, as part of their semi-religious ceremonies re-kindling the spirituality of Mexica ritual performers (learn more from the link below...)

Pic 18: A rare armadillo shell harp from Bolivia, location and dimensions unknown
Pic 18: A rare armadillo shell harp from Bolivia, location and dimensions unknown (Click on image to enlarge)

As it happens the ‘few-trees-plenty-armadillos’ idea may well be fanciful. Ethnomusicologists are struggling to discover the origin of these instruments. It may prove straightforward to show that the charango is derived from the Spanish vihuela (the hypothesis of one of Bolivia’s leading charanguistas Ernesto Cavour), or possibly from the bandurria, but some believe that the creation of these hybrid instruments may have been part of an attempt to avoid the suppression of indigenous music - and instruments - by colonial authorities, whose fanaticism waxed and waned over three centuries of Spanish rule. Certainly the Concheros tradition is considered to have evolved as an ‘adapt-to-survive’ strategy, fusing Catholic with native Mexican elements.

Pic 19: Abuse of armadillos: scenes from Oruro’s Diablada carnival in Bolivia, 1975
Pic 19: Abuse of armadillos: scenes from Oruro’s Diablada carnival in Bolivia, 1975 (Click on image to enlarge)

Sadly, the abundance of armadillos has been abused in some parts of the Andes: in Bolivia, for example, during the annual Diablada carnival in Oruro, the bonnets of vehicles could be seen, in years gone by, literally covered with stuffed armadillos, dancers might adorn their costumes with them, or hold them as imitation shakers (pic 19). As a result, the armadillo is now a protected species in Bolivia. [in the mid-1970s, when this was not the case (but it was in neighbouring Peru) you could stand on the border between the two countries and constantly see armadillos migrating to Peru to avoid being hunted!]
Even in charango workshops (pic 20), armadillo-shell backed instruments are becoming rarer and rarer; all-wooden ones are now the norm - indeed, many musicians claim the sound is in any case fuller and brighter than that from those made from armadillos. Perhaps this is just as well: as the armadillo craze finally starts to die down, the creature’s future now seems increasingly secure...

Pic 20: A line of armadillo-shell-backed charangos in the workshop of Bolivian maestro Sabino Orozco, La Paz, 1975
Pic 20: A line of armadillo-shell-backed charangos in the workshop of Bolivian maestro Sabino Orozco, La Paz, 1975 (Click on image to enlarge)

Sources:-
• Beusterien, John (2017) ‘The Armadillo: Spain Creates a Curious Horse to Belittle America’, Bulletin of Spanish Visual Studies, 1:1, 27-52
• ----- (2020) Transoceanic Animals as Spectacle in Early Modern Spain, Amsterdam University Press
• Brown, Linda A. (2006) Planting the Bones: An Ethnoarchaeological Exploration of Hunting Shrines and Deposits around Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, famsi.org
• Berdan, Frances F. & Rieff Anawalt, Patricia (1997) The Essential Codex Mendoza, University of California Press
• Boiles, David (2001) ‘Combined Dictionary–Concordance of the Yucatecan Mayan Language’, famsi.org
• Coe, Sophie (1994) America’s First Cuisines, University of Texas Press, Austin
• Cordry, Donald (1980) Mexican Masks, University of Texas Press, Austin
• de la Cruz, Abelardo (13/1/21) personal communication
• Diehl, Richard A. & Mandeville, Margaret (1987) ‘Tula, and wheeled animal effigies in Mesoamerica’, Antiquity vol. 61, no. 232, July (from famsi.org)
• Emery, Kitty F., Dr., Curator, Environmental Archaeology, Florida Museum of Natural History (1/1/21) personal communication
Florentine Codex Book 11 - Earthly Things (1963), translated from the Aztec into English, with notes and illustrations by Charles E. Dibble and Arthur J.O. Anderson, School of American Research and University of Utah, Santa Fe
• García Rivas, Heriberto (1991) Cocina Prehispánica Mexicana, Editorial Panorama, Mexico DF
• Kurstén, Björn (1988) Before the Indians, Columbia University Press
• Ledesma, Gabriel Fernández (1944) Album de Animales Mexicanos, SEP (reprinted 1991)
• López Austin, Alfredo (1993) The Myths of the Opossum: Pathways of Mesoamerican Mythology, University of New Mexico Press
• ----- (2018) ‘Cosmogonía y Geometría Cósmica en Mesoamérica’, Arqueología Mexicana special edition no. 83, December 2018
• de Montellano, Bernardo R. Ortiz (1990) Aztec Medicine, Health and Nutrition, Rutgers University Press, London
• Pereira, Karen (n.d.) ‘Offering to the Gods in Escuintla -
New Evidence on Rim-heads Incense Burners’, famsi.org
Popol Vuh (1996), translated by Dennis Tedlock, Touchstone Books, New York
• Quetzeri Santiago, Paulina (2019) Diagnóstico del aprovechamiento de armadillo de nueve bandas (Dasypus novemcinctus) en la zona de ‘Riberas del Pixquiac’ - bases para una propuesta de manejo integral, thesis, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Veracruzana
• Reents-Budet, Dorie (1994) Painting the Maya Universe: Royal Ceramics of the Classic Period, Duke University Press, London
• Seler, Eduard (2008) [1909-10] Las Imágenes de Animales en los Manuscritos Mexicanos y Mayas, translated from the German by Joachim von Mentz, Casa Juan Pablos, Mexico
• Shapiro, Beth, Graham, Russell W. & Letts, Brandon (2014) ‘A revised evolutionary history of armadillos (Dasypus) in North America based on ancient mitochondrial DNA’, Boreas 10.1111/bor.12094
• Sugiyama, Nawa, Valadez Azúa, Raúl & Rodríguez Galicia, Bernardo (2017) ‘Faunal acquisition, maintenance, and consumption: how the Teotihuacanos got their meat’, Archaeol Anthropol Sci, 9, 61–81
• Vail, Gabrielle (n.d.) Mayacodices.org (and 10/1/21, personal communication)
• Vail, Gabrielle & Aveni, Anthony (Eds.) (2009) The Madrid Codex, University Press of Colorado
• Wikipedia: Nine-banded armadillo

Image sources:-
• Main and pix 17, 18, 19 & 20: photos by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore
• Pic 1: photo from Mexicolore archives, source unknown
• Pic 2: illustration scanned from our own copy of Sellos de Antiguo México by Jorge Enciso, Mexico City, 1947 (self-published)
• Pic 3: photo from Wikipedia (Nine-banded armadillo)
• Pic 4: illustration by Dennis Tedlock, scanned from his book (see above)
• Pic 5: photos by Donald Cordry, scanned from his book (see above), courtesy of University of Texas Press
• Pic 6: photo top L courtesy of Brighton Museum; photo top R source unknown; photos centre and bottom © The Trustees of the British Museum
• Pix 7 & 8: images from the Codex Madrid downloaded from famsi.org
• Pic 9: illustration by Donald Cordry, scanned from his book (see above)
• Pic 10: image from the Codex Mendoza (original in the Bodleian Library, Oxford) scanned from our own copy of the James Cooper Clark facsimile edition, Waterlow & Sons, London, 1938
• Pic 11: photo by © and courtesy of Justin Kerr, from his database Mayavase.com
• Pic 12: image from Wikimedia Commons
• Pic 13: image downloaded from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/historicalanatomies/gesner_home.html
• Pic 14: illustration by Gabriel Fernández Ledesma, scanned from his book (see above)
• Pic 15: image from Wikipedia
• Pic 16: image (L) from Wikipedia (Adriaen Collaert); (R) downloaded from https://www.wopc.co.uk/france/jeu-geographie.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jan 01st 2021

emoticon Aztec Limerick no. 20 (A second ode to armadillos)
The size of a ‘dillo can vary
From Giant to tiny Pink Fairy;
They’ve a great sense of smell,
And the smaller the shell,
The more likely it is to be hairy!

Have you read Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories? Remember ‘The Beginning of Armadillos’? He tells the story of how Stickly-Prickly Hedgehog and Slow-and-Solid Tortoise metamorphose into the ‘always so clever’ armadillo in order to trick Painted Jaguar...

‘The ocarina in Mesoamerica’

‘What did they do with the shells of armadillos after eating the meat? ‘

Learn more about the Concheros movement

See the author playing a ‘concha’ in the early days of Mexicolore’s school workshops, in London

Learn about the amazing - but threatened - giant armadillo in Brazil
Check out the Giant Armadillo Conservation Project, core funded by Edinburgh Zoo
Meet Jack, ZSL London Zoo’s large hairy armadillo
A good information resource on the 9-banded armadillo in Mexico
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