The choice of the name "Feathered Serpent" is due to the fact that there are translations for most of the indigenous peoples who have lived in Mexico and America. While Nahuatl name Quetzalcoatl is probably the most well-known by most readers, it is a Late Postclassic and colonial Nahuatl term used mostly in Mexico Highlands. In fact, the names Kukulkan in Maya Tzeltal, Qʼuqʼumatz in Q'iche' are local versions of the Feathered Serpent. This onomastic diversity is accompanied by epithets that denote positive and negatives attributes, powers, and domains. Speaking of the positive ones, he's considered as creator of humanity, provider of fire and food, patron of artists, announcer of rains, organizer of time and stars, young conquering warrior, priest concerned with rules, etc. About the negative ones, he is the first to sacrifice the gods, claims for human sacrifices. It then becomes Naxcit, Hun Ac El, Kan Tepeu, Nanahuatl, Ce Acatl, Ehécatl, etc. Its own name is the perfect of complementary opposites: the quetzal feathers remind us its heavenly nature, and the coatl or serpent refers to its chthonian aspect. Despite the cultural, linguistic, and figurative diversity inherent in Mesoamerican religious Tradition, this entry highlights shared aspects of the Feathered Serpent cult in ancient Mesoamerica, taking into account colonial texts written in Spanish or Nahuatl, pre-Hispanic depictions, and some ethnographic testimonies.
Date made available16 Jan 2024
PublisherThe University of British Columbia
Temporal coverage0100 - 1500
Date of data production15 Jan 2024
Geographical coverageMesoamerica

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