(1955), invaluable for its numerous illustrations,identifies only one of the six ocarinas pictured in the chapter on huilacapitztli as Aztec.Front and rear views of a five-note clay specimen shaped like a human head (eyes closed,mouth wide open)appear on pages 72-73 to show what an Aztec ocarina in the Museo Nacional de Antropologia looks like.The rest of the ocarinas illustrated in this chapter prove the popularity of the instrument in the Mayan and certain Gulf Coast cultures,but not in the Valley of Mexico.
Obviously,it reached its apex in what are now Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
The only two provably Mexican ocarinas at the Misée de l'Homme which d'Harcourt found worth describing cannot compare with those from Central America in the same collection. more to the point,neither of the two "Mexican" ocarinas he describes can be Aztec,nor is any ocarina an Aztec cultural artifact among those chosen for pitch analysis in 'Instrumentos musicales precortesianos' (1955,pp.163-164). The ocarinas described and illustrated in Frans Blom's 'The Conquest of Yucatan" (Boston:Houghton Mifflia,1936),page 136 and plate IV,not only precede the Aztec invasion of the Valley of Mexico by a millenium,but also have nothing to do with Yucatan,the Ulúa River valley in northern Honduras having been the area where they came to light.
Under these circumstances, the idea must be surrendered that either the Aztecs themselves or their close allies took fondly to the ocarina - that is to say the globular flute so often given anthropomorphic or zoomorphic shape in Central America. It is not even certain that the term 'huilacapitztli' - translated to mean simply "flute or fife" in Molina's 1571 Náhuatl - Spanish dictionary - should nowadays be applied to ocarinas.When 'Canto,danza y música precortesianos' (p.338) calls "bird-shaped ocarinas" 'huilacapitztli',the author may be right,but Stanford's analysis of roots (Yearbook II,p.111) makes "a cane or reed vertical flute" much the more probable sense.
The native painting that accompanies Sahagún's Book II,chapter 24 (Anderson and Dibble,op.cit.,1951 illustration 17,after p.102),shows no broken ocarinas.Yet the corresponding Náhuatl text distinctly specifies that the handsome youth broke first his tlapitzalli,then his huilacapitztli,as he ascended the temple steps to his doom.Anderson and Dibble here translate these two words as "flute,whistle" (p.68) .But when the plural of huilacapitztli recurs in chapter 35 of this same Book 2 - The Ceremonies (p.141),they are content to let it mean simply "flutes".For allowing it to signify "flutes" generically,they stand on Sahagún's own example.In his Spanish translation,he gave only 'flautas',thereby discouraging any finer distinction.