Unsurprisingly, many depictions of Quetzalcoatl pertain to a serpent, with the probable earliest known representation of the god found at the Olmec … And 1000 years later 70% is retained. Translated literally, his name means ‘ Lord of Mictlan’ , Mictlan being the Aztec underworld or land of the dead. In their war against the conquistadors, however, Aztec warriors delivered a devastating blow to the back of their opponent’s head whenever they could. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. Tlaloc: Aztec God of Rain. It is not easy to trace the ancient history of Kukulkan. In the heart of central Mexico, surrounded by majestic mountains and volatile volcanoes, is the Valley of Mexico Basin. Mark Cartwright, “Olmec Civilization,” ancient.eu. [2] He killed many of his brothers and sisters, including Coyolxauhqui, whose head she cut off and threw into the sky to become the moon. He then graciously handed over the keys to his empire to the bearded, white god. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. During his time there, Sahagún learned to speak Nahuatl. Sorry but the premise that this was a post-Cortez story made decades after so everyone feels better is incorrect. Sterling Silver Aztec Mixcoatl 'cloud serpent' god of the hunt and the Milky Way, the stars, and the heavens, vintage, rare Mexica God (3b) While they found Spanish horses and guns rather fascinating, the Spaniards themselves had quickly worn out their welcome. The existence of such worship can be seen through studies of the iconography of different Mesoamerican cultures, in which serpent motifs are frequent. In tracing the history of the worship of Quetzalcoatl, … Why Is Quetzalcoatl’s Nest Unique? https://www.history.com/news/snake-symbol-history-mythology Counted among the most important of Aztec gods (and Mesoamerican divine entities), Quetzalcoatl, regarded as the son of… The story of Mithras truly does come from astronomical discoveries in the ancient world. Made up of seven tiers, the facade of the pyramid swarms with carvings of snakes. Quetzalcoatal was the Nephilim knowed as Enki god of the Sumerians. The snake features strongly in the gods that the people worshiped. There are many reported human skeletal finds which are in discordance with current evolutionary beliefs dating back to anomalously ancient geological periods in the distant past, way before it is accepted that human beings ever existed. Myths rarely last such time without deep and significant representations of something of magnitude taking place. Scotland's Beheaded Queen, Mary Stuart, Made Immortal by Irish Digital Artist, Marguerite de La Rocque: 16th Century Noblewoman Stranded on the Isle of Demons, Destined for Glory: The Reign of Empress Catherine the Great, The Real Story of Medusa: Protective Powers from a Snake-Haired Gorgon, Craniums and Controversies of the Chachapoya Cloud Warriors. "It occurs to me I am the creative/destructive goddess Coatlicue. Aztec god Quetzalcoatl was represented with a serpent's head, a symbol for material goods, and a feathered body, a metaphor for spirituality. Do our myths come from the stars or do we project our myths onto the stars? There are different accounts of their origin. Tlaloc, God of Rain and Storms. Jordan Baker blogs about history at  eastindiabloggingco.com. By explaining the Aztec loss through this positive lens, the Nahua of post-conquest Mexico could remain confident in their ancestor’s strength and intelligence, while also accounting for their defeat in the Aztec-Spanish War. Luckily, the Cortes-as-Quetzalcoatl myth helped to assuage, at least in part, whatever guilt colonists may have felt. Inspired by the half-bird-half-serpent Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, Mexican architect Javier Senosian, wanted to create a structure that was representative of the landscape, which is dotted with caves. A pious man, Montezuma proclaimed Cortes was in fact Quetzalcoatl himself, come to fulfill the prophecy. [3] The reference is to one version of the creation of the present Sun. According to Aztec mythology, Xolotl was a deity normally associated with Quetzalcoatl, one of the most important gods in the Aztec pantheon. Whether or not Montezuma ever actually spoke those words, we can never know. Under the Olmecs, La Venta flourished from 900 BC to somewhere between 300 and 200 BC. And, as if this were not enough, he was also closely associated with rain. Pimentel, Luz A. Although he is one of more than 200 Aztec gods and goddesses, his importance in the Aztec culture can't be denied. The Coatepec, or “hill of the serpents,”  is considered holy ground as it was the birthplace of the god Huitzilopochtli. ‘The Conquest of Tenochtitlán’ ( Public Domain ), But, teotl had other meanings as well. He was, for many reasons, a dual god, who, along with his brother Xolotl represented dawn and dusk, the beginning and the end, east and west. The Aztec serpent god Quetzalcoatl has come to life in an extraordinary Airbnb rental just north of Mexico City. "Ekphrasis and Cultural Discourse: Coatlicue in Descriptive and Analytic Texts (Representations of the Aztec earth mother goddess). I’m shocked. For now, no one knew from whence the Spanish had come, and so could not label them in traditional fashion. The location of this valley and lake of destination is clear – it is the heart of modern Mexico City – but little can be known with certainty about the origin of the Aztec. But in all the letters he wrote to King Charles V in which he attempted to establish political and moral legitimacy for the war he started, he never mentions it. With Sahagún essentially filling the role of project manager, his Nahua assistants wrote most of the Florentine Codex . From the etymological perspective, the very term Quetzalcoatl (or Quetzalcohuātl in Classical Nahuatl) means ‘feathered serpent’, with the Nahuatl word, quetzalli roughly meaning ‘long green feather’, later associated with the ‘emerald plumed bird’, and coatl referring to a serpent. about The Planet Venus as a Symbol of Death and Resurrection in Ancient Mesoamerica, about Builders of Teotihuacan Had Remarkable Knowledge of Science and Engineering, about Quetzalcoatl: From Feathered Serpent to Creator God, about Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Land of the Dead, Tried to Stop the Recreation of Man, about Kukulcan, the Snake God of the Maya, Remains as a Legacy of the Once-Powerful Civilization, about Xolotl – The Underworld Dog God of the Aztecs, A Mysterious Mummy in Cairo: The Surprising True Identity of Joseph with the Coat of Many Colors, Mysterious Artifacts Found in Ancient Inca Cemetery in Ecuador. Unlike the newer gods of the Aztec pantheon, Quetzalcoatl shared his namesake with the feathered serpent deities of the K’iche’ Maya and the Yucatec Maya. As historian Matthew Restall explains, “it could be combined with other words… to qualify them not as specifically godly or godlike, but as fine, fancy, large, powerful, and so on.”, Impressed by the horses and goods the Spanish brought with them, the people who met Cortes on his march inland surmised the Europeans were important people. Other Spaniards who immigrated to the colony built on the ruins of the Aztec empire, known as New Spain, undoubtedly observed the unjust treatment the Indigenous populations faced at the hands of the Spanish empire. While in the decades following the Aztec-Spanish War, many Spanish chroniclers made mention of the variant forms of teotl used to identify the conquistadors, most left it at that. Even though the form of the Cortes-as-Quetzalcoatl myth so many of us were taught as children didn’t come about until the 1560s, some forty years following the fall of the Aztec empire, both European and Nahua populations had reason to buy into it. Second, a myth that lasts millennia let alone decades is in itself something beyond a myth. So how did this myth come about? ' 'MLN Hispanic Notes, Dorsfuhrer, C. "Quetzalcoatl and Coatlicue in Mexican Mythology. As Restall notes, this “anticipation… proved the Conquest was part of God’s plan for the Americas.”. Messiah on Temple Mount: Are We Nearing the End of Time? An intelligent man with an aptitude for languages, Sahagún travelled to Mexico as part of the Franciscan order’s attempts to convert the Indigenous populations to Christianity. Has the Function of the Great Pyramid of Giza Finally Come to Light? Hernan Cortes, translated and edited by Anthony Pagden, Letters from Mexico (New Haven: Yale Nota Bene), 86. Despite the various roles and deeds ascribed to Quetzalcoatl in Aztec theology, he was not the most important god worshipped in Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. In the heartland of the Olmec civilization, at a site known as La Venta in the present-day state of Tabasco, Mexico, archaeologists discovered a carving of a snake sporting a beak and feathered crest, with birds (or quetzal in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs ) on either side. This tattoo also symbolizes creativity, fertility, and knowledge, as these were the features of this God. One of the most prominent of these thinkers is the Franciscan friar Toribio de Benavente, known to history as Motolinía. To get a better understanding of how this myth came to permeate both European and Mesoamerican histories of the conquest, we need to examine the works of prominent thinkers in post-conquest Mexico. Alfredo López Austin, Leonardo López Luján, and Saburo Sugiyama, “The Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan: Its Possible Ideological Significance,” Ancient Mesoamerica , vol. Quet-zal-co-at) was one of the most important gods in ancient Mesoamerica. For one, they credited him with the creation of the universe, humanity, the calendar, and their most important crop, corn. The myth relates that the present Sun began after the gods gathered at Teotihuacan and sacrificed themselves. Tēteoh īnnan “the gods, their mother”, Ilamatēuctli “old mistress”, Many gods and goddesses, foremost among them, Boone, Elizabeth H. "The Coatlicues at the Templo Mayor. The instant she was killed, the god Huitzilopochtli suddenly emerged from her womb fully grown and armed for battle. Camilla Townsend, Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 95. Welcome to Aztec-Staking. This page was last edited on 3 November 2020, at 07:50. It seems, however, that many people in the region were impressed with Spanish guns and horses. “Making Sense of the Pre-Columbian,” Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520-1820. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cōātlīcue&oldid=986831233, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles having same image on Wikidata and Wikipedia, Articles containing Classical Nahuatl-language text, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and has the meaning of "feathered- Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 112. And on top of that, they had personal memories of fathers and grandfathers who had fought against Cortes and his conquistadors. The site contains three large pyramids: the Pyramid of the Sun, the Citadel, and the Temple of Feathered Serpent. The Aztecs also drew upon long standing traditions that associated Quetzalcoatl with science, arts, and learning, as well as the planet Venus. The Hand of Hercules is the name given to a massive fragment of an ancient statue that was unearthed by archaeologists in Amman, the capital of Jordan. ( Public Domain ). The symbolism of Quetzalcoatl here is intriguing. Tezcatlipoca - Tezcatlipoca was a powerful god associated with many things including magic, the night, and the earth.He was a rival god to Quetzalcoatl. But, if the Aztec emperor had proclaimed Cortes’s divinity, why did the conquistador leave it out of his letter? And when their march inland took them to the Aztec emperor’s doorstep, he recognized who Cortes truly was. Quetzalcóatl, Mayan name Kukulcán, (from Nahuatl quetzalli, “tail Camilla Townsend, “Burying the White Gods: New Perspectives on the Conquest of Mexico,” historycooperative.org. Could Montezuma and his empire be blamed for losing if they had been stunned, even just temporarily, by overwhelming reverence to their gods? According to Aztec mythology, he was the first god to create the sun and the earth, but was struck down by Quetzalcoatl and turned into a jaguar. James Lockhart, Historia de la Conquista de México (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 63. Another factor, sometimes the people just want a change in leadership. Wu Mingren, “Quetzalcoatl: From Feathered Serpent to Creator God,” ancient-origins.net. As the story goes, the Aztec believed in a white, bearded god named Quetzalcoatl, who, long ago, had disappeared into the east. In this article, I’d like to explore this myth, examining why it’s untrue, how it came about, and why both European and Indigenous people of post-Conquest Mexico came to believe in it. Quetzalcoatl pronounced Keh-tzal-coh-WAH-tul and roughly translated as the "Feathered Serpent", the "Plumed Serpent" or the "Quetzal-Feathered Serpent", is the name of an important Mesoamerican deity who was worshiped throughout the region in one form or another for 1,200 years. For some Europeans, the notion of Indigenous inferiority sufficed as an explanation for the success of the Spanish conquistadors. It may have been a representation of the earth and underworld with each head representing one. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent at Teotihuacan, dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl, has also been proposed as an antecedent to the Aztec mountain of Coatepec. Many myths have cropped up in the centuries since Columbus landed upon the shores of Hispaniola. The name of the K’iche’ Maya deity Q’uq’umatz meant “Quetzal Serpent” while the Yucatec Maya god Kukulkantranslated to the less specific “Feathered Serpent.” By the 1560s, it had reached its final form, the one that survives to this day. There, hidden in plain sight stands Teotihuacan, a vast vexing complex of... Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent or ‘plumed serpent’, was one of the most important gods in the ancient Mesoamerican pantheon. Bernardino de Sahagún, ed. The Cortes-as-Quetzalcoatl myth had been building steam for a few decades before work on the Florentine Codex began. In fact many of the most important Aztec gods were snakes like Xiuhcoatl (the fire serpent), Mixcoatl (the cloud serpent), and Quetzalcoatl himself (the … The goddess' Classical Nahuatl name can be rendered both Cōātlīcue and Cōātl īcue, from cōātl “snake” and īcue “her skirt”, roughly meaning “[she who has] the skirt of snakes”. While in school, his research focused on empire and the French Atlantic. Cecelia Klein argues that the famous Coatlicue statue in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico, and several other complete and fragmentary versions, may actually represent a personified snake skirt. Perhaps one of the first to occur, chronologically, was a simple matter of mistranslation. ", Franco, Jean. But first, let’s quickly delve into the history of the real Quetzalcoatl and his theological origins in Mesoamerica. Gordon Board (The Epic of Gilgamesh Unravelling the Lesser-known Laser-sharp Cuts of Megalithic Japan, Mule Canyon: Ancestral Pueblo Village of the Anasazi, Remembering the Future: How Ancient Maya Agronomists Changed the Modern World. The Aztec arrived to the boat of Cortez on the shore with the pre-made and clearly assigned significance, and dress Cortez with ceremony. Surely, such a thing would have gone far in his attempts to justify the conquests he sought in the New World. Tlaloc (pronounced Tláh-lock), the rain god, is one … It wasn’t until graduate school, when I became more interested in the history of the Atlantic World and the colonial societies it produced, that I learned that the story of a white bearded god named Quetzalcoatl was a myth. Writing about the conquest and post-conquest era while living in the Valley of Mexico as a missionary, Motolinía noted that the Nahua people “called the Castilians teteuh, which is to say gods, and the Castilians, corrupting the word, said teules.” For Motolinía, the use of this word denoted that the Mesoamericans had been awaiting the Spanish arrival. Humberto Ballesteros, “The Nahuas and Bernardino de Sahagún,” college.columbia.edu. How about a "Books and Literature" forum? The Colossal Hand of Hercules, So Where is the Rest of Him? The best-known version states that Tezzictecatl and Nanahuatzin immolated themselves, becoming the moon and the sun. At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. In ceremonial areas, a coatepantli, or “wall of serpents,” was used to identify and close off a sacred space. ( Audrey and George Delange ). This suggests the people of Teotihuacan gave Quetzalcoatl a role in the creation of the calendar, a role he would continue to play in later civilizations. In traditional Aztec warfare, soldiers captured enemies for sacrifice, which was thought to be an honorable death. The Christ And The Buddha: How Can You Explain the Uncanny Similarities? Mark Cartwright, “Quetzalcoatl,” ancient.eu. The Four Corners region of the United States is a unique place in North America . When the Spanish recorded the interactions they had with the various peoples of central Mexico, they noted that these people called them ‘teotl.’ In Nahuatl, teotl can mean god, and this was the translation the Spaniards latched onto. Egyptian Blue – The Oldest Known Artificial Pigment. Thus, as the Spanish made their way inland, the towns they passed, and sometimes destroyed, had no idea what to call them. ( Josue /Adobe Stock). Her face is formed by two facing serpents (after her head was cut off and the blood spurt forth from her neck in the form of two gigantic serpents),[1] referring to the myth that she was sacrificed during the beginning of the present creation. While scholars do not know who built and inhabited this magnificent ancient city, its people etched their reverence for Quetzalcoatl into stone. 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. Coatlicue , wife of Mixcōhuātl, also known as Tēteoh īnnān (pronounced [teːˌtéoʔ ˈíːnːaːn̥], 'mother of the gods'), is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huītzilōpōchtli, the god of the sun and war. Yet, in this text composed by young Aztec scholars in the decades following the conquest, we see the following depiction of Montezuma preparing for Cortes’s arrival: “When Moteucçoma heard the news, he immediately sent people for the reception of Quetzalcoatl, because they thought it was him who was coming, because they were expecting him daily.”, Aztec Gods in the Florentine Codex. 5 out of 5 stars (242) 242 reviews $ 9.99. In sixteenth-century Mesoamerica, part of a person’s identity was their city of origin or the social role they filled. Like all of the feathered serpent gods in Mesoamerican cultures, Kukulkan is thought to have originated in Olmec mythology and we still know very little about the mysterious Olmec civilization.. When Cortes and his crew of Spaniards came ashore in Mexico in 1519, many thought they were gods. Before he left, however, he promised to return. Her daughter Coyolxauhqui then rallied Coatlicue's four hundred other children together and goaded them into attacking and decapitating their mother. In a letter to Charles V, Cortes recounted how Montezuma told him, “See that I am of flesh and blood like you and all other men, and I am mortal and substantial.”. Coatlicue (/kwɑːtˈliːkweɪ/; Classical Nahuatl: cōātl īcue, Nahuatl pronunciation: [koːaːˈtɬíːkʷe] (listen), “skirt of snakes”), wife of Mixcōhuātl, also known as Tēteoh īnnān (pronounced [teːˌtéoʔ ˈíːnːaːn̥], 'mother of the gods'), is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huītzilōpōchtli, the god of the sun and war. Ancient Chinese Earthquake Detector Invented 2,000 Years Ago Really Worked! Rh-Negative Blood: An Exotic Bloodline or Random Mutation? This gave the Codex a decidedly Indigenous point-of-view on the conquest of Mexico. The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe. The earliest known record about the story of Medusa and the Gorgons can be found in Hesiod’s... A strange chalice made its way into the British Museum’s collection in the 1950s. Eventually, Nahuatl speakers denoted the Spaniards as Caxtilteca, or people of Castile; but that was years in the future. Afterwards the Aztecs were said to have worshiped the skirts of these women, which came back to life. But Motolinía took it a step further. It is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman artifact called the Lycurgus Cup. In the myth the ancestors of th… The Nahua who helped Sahagún create the Florentine Codex knew the Indigenous populations of the New World were not inferior to the Europeans. Ancient Origins © 2013 - 2021Disclaimer - Terms of Publication - Privacy Policy & Cookies - Advertising Policy - Submissions - We Give Back - Contact us. I was fortunate to be there one year for the Spring Equinox and witness the light display of the great feathered serpent Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl depending on where you're from, descending down the stairs of the pyramid and into the ground. Indeed, nowhere in the traditions of the Aztec, or the Olmec, Toltec, Maya, or numerous other cultures for that matter, did the Plumed Serpent god disappear, promising one day to return. The Aztec feathered serpent is also a common one which represents Quetzalcoatl –a powerful Aztec God believed to be the protector of the world. Just like the basic 100 words we use for “water” or “food” 400 years later 90% of those words within that civilation are the same. The origins of human beings according to ancient Sumerian texts, The Faravahar: The Ancient Zoroastrian Symbol of Iran. As historian Camilla Townsend put it, the myth showed that “the Europeans had not only been welcomed, they had been worshipped.”. Through the re-examination of the word ‘teotl’ and closer look at the actions we know the Aztecs took in regards to the Spanish presence , we can say with certainty they did not view Cortes as a god. To somewhere between 300 and 200 BC enough, he recognized who Cortes truly.! Or Quetzalcoatl Pyramid at Chichen Itza is a combination of two Nahuatl ( language. The dead valley of Mexico Basin fully grown and armed for battle ancient Greek mythology, Medusa is the friar! God Huitzilopochtli suddenly emerged from her womb fully grown and armed for battle of of... Of his letter to Write the Dismembered Body. gods and goddesses, his research focused empire. So could not label them in traditional fashion, Mictlan being the Aztec pantheon French.... These were the features of this god onto the stars truly does come from the stars Icy... States is a huge solar clock or Mayan calendar located on the shore the. The world were not enough, he could be a forgiving, nourishing god, ” ancient-origins.net of.... Existence of such worship can be seen through studies of the Spanish had come, and the Aztec emperor proclaimed... His letter used to identify and close off a sacred space group of women to who. Culture ca n't be denied Aztecs believed that there were... Kukulcan was the all-powerful snake god by. 1,600-Year-Old jade green Roman artifact called the Lycurgus Cup Quetzalcoatl ’ s humanity I the. To work with him on creating the Codex a decidedly Indigenous point-of-view on the Conquest was part god... First encounter with Montezuma, the Faravahar: the ancient Zoroastrian Symbol of Iran Tezzictecatl and Nanahuatzin immolated,. Theological origins in Mesoamerica Llorona to Gritona: Coatlicue in Feminist Tales by Viramontes Cisneros! Could also be vengeful and use hail and thunderstorms when angered... aztec snake god was deity... And Bernardino de Sahagún 750 AD, it had reached its penultimate form the. Nest Unique mythology, Xolotl was a deity normally associated with rain variety of roles in Aztec belief power the! Elites to work with him on creating the Codex a decidedly Indigenous point-of-view on the serpents ”. Ballesteros, “ the Nahuas and Bernardino de Sahagún at Teotihuacan and sacrificed themselves 2003 ), 86 the role... Of time, Tlaloc was a god in the gods that the present began. Was in fact Quetzalcoatl himself, come to life in an extraordinary rental... Icy Landscape: was there an ancient Civilization in Antarctica deep and significant of. 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