A god of the Toltecs and Aztecs, represented as a plumed serpent.
Quetzalcoatl (kèt-säl´ko-ät´l), [Nahuatl, = feathered serpent], ancient deity and legendary ruler of the TOLTEC in Mexico. An early Toltec ruler credited with the discovery of corn, the arts, and science is also called Quetzalcoatl. As god of civilization, identified with the wind and the planet Venus, Quetzalcoatl represented the forces of good and light. The name was adopted by the AZTEC and linked to their chief god; their emperor MONTEZUMA mistook the invading Spanish for the hosts of Quetzalcoatl returning (as promised in legend) from travels over the sea. The MAYA Kulkulcán, also represented by a feathered serpent, probably derived from the same historical figure as Quetzalcoatl.
Quetzalcoatl is a great mythical figure evoking wisdom and civilization and is also one of the most ubiquitous and changeable of characters. One of his qualities is to be reborn during each period of history, but with a different face each time around. He always retains the halo of the ancestral aura but also possesses new meanings and a psychic charge that intermingles present yearnings with reverberatins from the past.
Warrior, rain-god, and spirit of the maize, Quetzalcoatl
- the most familiar of the Mesoamerican gods - is better known for his
attributes than for his complex history. Known to the Zapotecs, Olmecs,
Toltecs, Mayans, and the Aztecs, and at times the shared hero of warring
peoples, Quetzalcoatl transcends both cultural and chronological barriers.
His very name links the earth (coatl, or serpent) with the sky (quetzalli,
or precious green feathers).
- _The Myth Of Quetzalcoatl_ (1999) by Enrique Florescano
Names and traces:
1. Aztec, Central Mexico -- Cuculcan (adopted Toltec
2. Maya, Yucatán Peninsula -- Quetzalcoatl (adopted Olmec mythology - Honduras/Nicaragua/Costarica)
3. Kechua (Inca), Perú/Bolivia/Ecuador -- Viracocha (origin of the myth predates Kechua at least 1500 years)