'Quetzalcoatl' (Classic Nahuatl: Quetzalcohuātl) is a Mesoamerican deity whose name derives from the Nahuatl language, meaning "feathered serpent" (quetzali feather, snake coatl). The worship of the feathered serpent was first documented in Teotihuacán in the 1st century B.C. or d.C. This period falls between the late Preclassic and early Classic (400 BC - 600 AD) periods of Mesoamerican chronology, and the veneration of the figure seems to have spread throughout Mesoamerica in the late Classic period (600-900 AD). .

In the postclassic period (900-1519 AD), the worship of the feathered serpent was located in its main center of Mexican worship in Cholula. It is in this period that the deity is known with the name "Quetzalcóatl" by his Nahua followers. In the Maya area, it was roughly equivalent to Kukulkán and Gucumatz, names that also roughly translate as "feathered serpent" in different Mayan languages.

Quetzalcóatl, the Aztec god of the wind and learning, wears around his neck the "breastplate of the wind" ehecailacocozcatl , the "jewel of the spiral wind" made with a shell. This talisman was a cross-cut shell and was possibly worn as a necklace by religious leaders as they have been discovered in burials at archaeological sites throughout Mesoamerica, potentially symbolizing patterns seen in hurricanes, dust eddies, shells, and eddies that were elemental forces of importance. in Aztec mythology. The drawings in the codices show Quetzalcóatl and Xólotl. They are shown wearing the ehecailacozcatl around their necks. There has been at least one major discovery of offerings with knives and idols adorned with the symbols of more than one god, some with jewels of the wind.

In the time after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, various sources were written that combine Quetzalcóatl with Ce Ácatl Topiltzin, a ruler of the mythical-historical city of Tollan. It is a matter of debate among historians to what extent these stories of the legendary Toltec ruler describe historical events. Furthermore, the earliest Spanish sources written by clergymen tend to identify the god-ruler Quetzalcoatl from these narratives with Hernán Cortés or the apostle Tomás - an identification of which there is great diversity of opinion on the nature of Quetzalcóatl.

Among the Aztecs, whose beliefs are well documented in historical sources, Quetzalcóatl related to the god of the winds, the planet Venus, the dawn, merchants and the arts, crafts and knowledge. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge. Quetzalcóatl was one of the important gods of the Aztec pantheon, along with gods like Tláloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. Two other gods represented by the planet Venus are Quetzalcóatl's ally, Tláloc, who is the god of rain, and Quetzalcoatl's twin and psychopomp, Xólotl.

Animals that are considered to represent the Quetzalcoatl include the quetzal, rattlesnakes, crows, and macaws. In its Ehécatl form, it is the wind and is represented by spider monkeys, ducks, and the wind itself. In its morning star form, Venus is shown as a harpy eagle. In Mazatec legends, the astrologer deity Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, who is also related to Venus, has a close relationship with Quetzalcóatl.

Feathered Serpent God in Mesoamerica

In many different ethnopolitical groups in Mesoamerican history, the feathered serpent god has been worshiped. The existence of such worship can be seen in studies of the iconography of different Mesoamerican cultures, in which the motifs of snakes are frequent. Based on the different symbolic systems used in the representations of the feathered serpent god in different cultures and periods, scholars have interpreted the religious and symbolic meaning of this deity in Mesoamerican cultures.

Iconographic representations

The first iconographic representation of the deity is considered Stela 19 of the Olmec place of La Venta, representing a snake ascending behind a person who probably performs shamanic rituals. This representation is believed to have been made in 900 B.C. Although it is probably not a representation of the same feathered serpent god worshiped in the classical and post-classical periods, it shows a continuity in the symbolism of feathered serpents in Mesoamerica from the formative period onward, for example, to the comparison of the Mayan vision of the snake shown below

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