Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quetzalcoatl: Aztec Serpent-God

Here is my rendering of a well-known image of Quetzalcoatl – the Snake-God of Mesoamerica. As I often did with my “Sacred Symbols” collection of images, four versions of the image were created: Original, Gold, Silver and Turquoise. I was always taken by history and mythology surrounding this deity.

A feathered serpent deity has been worshiped by many different ethno-political groups in Mesoamerican history. The existence of such worship can be seen through studies of 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. 

Quetzalcoatl is a mysterious ancient god who took the appearance of a serpent-like figure, whose body was covered with the emerald feathers of the sacred quetzal bird.  Quetzalcoatl was Lord and Master of the wind, science and the arts, a supreme creator god who together with two brothers gave life to man and the universe during the current “fifth sun”.  Quetzalcoatl (the Nahuatl name for the god means “feathered serpent”) is perhaps one of the most ancient gods to exist in Mesoamerica.

In the Maya language, he was known as Kukulcan.  But Quetzalcoatl has even more distant origins than the Aztecs or Maya or even the Toltecs.  Quetzalcoatl probably dates back to the earliest of all Mesoamerican civilizations, the Olmec whose beginnings date back to around 1500 BCE.

Among the Aztecs, whose beliefs are the best-documented in the historical sources, Quetzalcoatl was related to gods of the wind, of Venus, of the dawn, of merchants and of arts, crafts and knowledge. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge. Quetzalcoatl was one of several important gods in the Aztec pantheon along with the gods Tlaloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. To the Aztecs Quetzalcoatl was, as his name indicates, a feathered serpent, a flying reptile (much like a dragon), who was a boundary maker (and transgressor) between earth and sky. He was also a creator deity having contributed essentially to the creation of Mankind. He also had anthropomorphic forms, for example in his aspects as Ehecatl the wind god. Among the Aztecs the name Quetzalcoatl was also a priestly title, as the most two important priests of the Aztec Templo Mayor were called "Quetzalcoatl Tlamacazqui". In the Aztec ritual calendar, different deities were associated with the cycle of year names: Quetzalcoatl was tied to the year Ce Acatl (One Reed), which correlates to the year 1519.

The four different versions of the above design: Original, Gold, Silver and Turquoise -- are available on a limited number of high quality customizable products exclusively from my Sacred Symbols gallery on Zazzle.

The above information provided in part Wikipedia and various printed materials on symbolic systems of Mesoamerica. All images are Copyright © of C.7 Design Studio

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