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Quetzalcoatl

Quetzalcoatl. The illustration comes from the Codex Borbonicus, one of a series of books produced by the Aztec people soon after...Read More >>Quetzalcoatl. The illustration comes from the Codex Borbonicus, one of a series of books produced by the Aztec people soon after they had been conquered by the Spanish, and which were intended to feature Aztec history and descriptions of Aztec daily life. Quetzalcoatl was the legendary ruler of Mesoamerica. Mesoamerica is the name historians give to the region of central and southern Mexico and northern parts of Central America where several great ancient civilizations grew up, beginning thousands of years ago. In the religion of the Aztec Empire, Quetzalcoatl was the god of order and civilization. The name Quetzalcoatl, which means “feathered serpent” in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, combines the magnificent, green-plumed quetzal bird, symbolizing the heavens and the wind, with the coatl (the word for “snake” or “serpent” in Nahuatl), which represents the earth and fertility.



Quetzalcoatl represented as a float in a pageant at the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, February 2012

Quetzalcoatl the god

Quetzalcoatl the god

Quetzalcoatl was the chief god to the Aztecs, who ruled central Mexico from about AD 1250. But he dates back many centuries before the time of the Aztec Empire. To the inhabitants of Teotihuacán, a great city that flourished around AD 200, he was probably the god of rain. For the Toltecs, who dominated Mexico from the 800s to the 1100s, Quetzalcoatl was the god of the morning and evening star (which we now know as the planet Venus) and the wind.

Buildings dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, who was also god of the wind, were circular or cylindrical in shape. This minimized their resistance to the wind as it flowed past them.

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