FIGURE 14. Young women offered to Cortés in Cell 7 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. Note their long flowing hair and elaborately-woven huipils and skirts.
FIGURE 15. Adult woman’s hairstyle depicted on the place sign of Cihuanteopan on folio 9v of the Matrícula de Tributos.
FIGURE 16. Adult woman’s hairstyle depicted on the place sign of Tonanixpan in Cell 25 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala.
FIGURE 17. Adult woman’s twisted crown hairstyle depicted on the place sign of Cihuanteopan on Folio 15v of the Matrícula de Tributos.
FIGURE 18. Cell 1 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, which contrasts the cloth-bound long hair of two Tlaxcalan nobles (left) with the long unbound hair of a foreign messenger (right).
FIGURE 19. Tlaxcalan converts to Christianity wear their hair cut short in a European style, from Cell 8 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. Only one indigenous man (front row, to the left) still wears his long hair bound in cloth. His feathered headband may indicated that he is ethnically Otomi. In the background, the short European hairstyle is worn by bearded Europeans.
FIGURE 20. Male warriors from Cuauhtinchan wearing an adult woman’s hairstyle, from Cell 36 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala.
FIGURE 21. Dreadlocks in the place sign for the town of Papantla, on Folio 15v of the Matrícula. The place sign is composed of two parts: a rectangular flag to the left, and a bundle of dreadlocks to the right.
As we discussed above, Central Mexican boys and girls seem to have shared the same haircut until adolescence. Marriageable girls, in contrast, wore their hair long. This is how Malinche’s hair is usually worn in the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, and it is also the style of the young women offered to Cortés in Cell 7 (Figure 14). In contrast, married women tied their long hair into two buns on the top of their heads.  This is sometimes called a ‘two-horned hairstyle.’ In the Matrícula, on folio 9v, a woman wearing this style is shown in profile (only one bun is visible) as part of the place sign for Cihuatlan (‘Place of Women’)(Figure 15). In the Lienzo, several place names involving female deities are marked by a woman wearing this two-horned style (Figure 16). Another style’“which seems to have been more popular outside of Central Mexico’“involved twisting bundles of hair around the head to form a sort of crown. This style appears on folio 15v of the Matrícula as part of the place sign of Cihuanteopan (‘On the Temple of the Women.’)(Figure 17).
Adult men usually had long hair, which they tied in cloth to create elaborate hairstyles. By tying up their long hair or wrapping it in cloth, adult men distinguished their locks from the flowing hair of young women (Figure 18). Significantly, most of the men with long and unbound hair in the Lienzo are enemy warriors. Long, unbound hair seems to have been a sign of male barbarism for the Tlaxcalans. Many of the enemy warriors with long unbound hair are also wearing only a loincloth’“that is, they are barely dressed, much like commoners.17 In contrast, the Tlaxcalan warriors wear elaborate hairstyles and headdresses, and are dressed in full bodysuits of feathers.
The long hair worn by the enemies of the Tlaxcalans, then, may not be a factual representation of how people outside of Tlaxcala dressed. This long hair may be an artistic manipulation, intended to communicate a message about how Tlaxcalans viewed their enemies. This is not the only place in the Lienzo where hairstyles convey multiple, symbolic meanings. In Cell 8, where the Tlaxcalans are shown converting to Christianity, several of the men are shown with their hair cut short, falling just below the ears. This was a European style. In other words, the artists of the Lienzo use hairstyles in this scene to communicate the new status of these men as Christians (Figure 19).
The symbolic manipulation of men’s hairstyles also appears in Cell 36 of the Lienzo, which shows the conquest of Cuauhtinchan (Figure 20). (This was a town 40 kilometers to the south of Tlaxcala). Two of the warriors of Cuauhtinchan are shown wearing the two-horned hairstyle. One of these warriors has been decapitated, the body no longer in view, so it is impossible to know whether the head belonged to a man or a woman. The other warrior, however, is clearly wearing a loincloth, and easily identified as male. One of the common ways to insult male Central Mexican warriors in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was to call them women, or to force them to wear women’s clothing.18 The representation of at least one male warrior wearing a female hairstyle may have been intended as a visual insult to the people of Cuauhtinchan by the Tlaxcalan artists of the Lienzo.
Finally, indigenous priests in Central Mexico allowed their long hair to form matted dreadlocks, which were called papatli in Nahuatl. Folio 15v of the Matrícula represents the town of Papantla with a drawing of long black dreadlocks tied together by a white knot (Figure 21).19
16 Joyce 2000, 480.
17 Asselbergs 2008, 73.
18 McCafferty and McCafferty 1994; Klein 2001, 193. For a very different kind of military transvestism, from twentieth-century Liberia, see Moran 1997.
19 On Mesoamerican dreadlocks, see Motolinía 1951 [1538-1541]: 99, n. 3, and 120. For dreadlocks in comparative perspective, see Hebdige 1979, 34, 36, 43, 63, 66, 143 n. 4; and Obeyesekere 1981.