|Member of |
Quetzalcoatl, God of Wind and Wisdom
"Feathered Serpent", "Precious Twin"
|Major cult center|
Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind, air, and learning, wears around his neck the "wind breastplate" ehecailacocozcatl, "the spirally voluted wind jewel" made of a conch shell. This talisman was a conch shell cut at the cross-section and was likely worn as a necklace by religious rulers, as such objects have been discovered in burials in archaeological sites throughout Mesoamerica, and potentially symbolized patterns witnessed in hurricanes, dust devils, seashells, and whirlpools, which were elemental forces that had significance in
In the era following the 16th-century
Animals thought to represent Quetzalcoatl include
A feathered serpent deity has been worshiped by many different ethnopolitical groups in Mesoamerican history. The existence of such worship can be seen through studies of the iconography of different Mesoamerican cultures, in which serpent motifs are frequent. On the basis of the different symbolic systems used in portrayals of the feathered serpent deity in different cultures and periods, scholars have interpreted the religious and symbolic meaning of the feathered serpent deity in Mesoamerican cultures.
The earliest iconographic depiction of the deity is believed to be found on
The first culture to use the symbol of a feathered serpent as an important religious and political symbol was
In the iconography of the classic period, Maya serpent imagery is also prevalent: a snake is often seen as the embodiment of the sky itself, and a vision serpent is a shamanic helper presenting Maya kings with visions of the
The archaeological record shows that after the fall of Teotihuacan that marked the beginning of the epi-classic period in
During the epi-classic period, a dramatic spread of feathered serpent iconography is evidenced throughout Mesoamerica, and during this period begins to figure prominently at sites such as
Represented as the plumed serpent, Quetzalcoatl was also manifest in the wind, one of the most powerful forces of nature, and this relationship was captured in a text in the Nahuatl language:
Quetzalcoatl; yn ehecatl ynteiacancauh yntlachpancauh in tlaloque, yn aoaque, yn qujqujiauhti. Auh yn jquac molhuja eheca, mjtoa: teuhtli quaqualaca, ycoioca, tetecujca, tlatlaiooa, tlatlapitza, tlatlatzinj, motlatlaueltia.
Quetzalcoatl—he was the wind, the guide and road sweeper of the rain gods, of the masters of the water, of those who brought rain. And when the wind rose, when the dust rumbled, and it crack and there was a great din, became it became dark and the wind blew in many directions, and it thundered; then it was said: "[Quetzalcoatl] is wrathful."
In the post-classic
On the basis of the Teotihuacan iconographical depictions of the feathered serpent, archaeologist
While not usually feathered, classic Maya serpent iconography seems related to the belief in a sky-, Venus-, creator-, war- and fertility-related serpent deity. In the example from Yaxchilan, the Vision Serpent has the human face of the young maize god, further suggesting a connection to fertility and vegetational renewal; the Maya Young Maize god was also connected to Venus.
In Xochicalco, depictions of the feathered serpent are accompanied by the image of a seated, armed ruler and the hieroglyph for the
On the basis of the iconography of the feathered serpent deity at sites such as Teotihuacan, Xochicalco, Chichén Itzá, Tula and Tenochtitlan combined with certain ethnohistorical sources, historian David Carrasco has argued that the preeminent function of the feathered serpent deity throughout Mesoamerican history was the patron deity of the Urban center, a god of culture and civilization.