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(kĕt'sälkôät`əl) [Nahuatl,=feathered serpent], ancient deity and legendary ruler of the ToltecToltec
, ancient civilization of Mexico. The name in Nahuatl means "master builders." The Toltec formed a warrior aristocracy that gained ascendancy in the Valley of Mexico c.A.D. 900 after the fall of Teotihuacán.
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 in Mexico. The name is also that of a Toltec ruler, who is credited with the discovery of corn, the arts, science, and the calendar. It is unclear whether the ruler took his name from the god or as a great ruler was revered and later deified.

Quetzalcoatl, god of civilization, was identified with the planet Venus and with the wind; he represented the forces of good and light pitted against those of evil and darkness, which were championed by TezcatlipocaTezcatlipoca
, ancient deity of the Toltec in Mexico. Identified with the night sky, the moon, and the stars, and associated with the forces of evil and destruction, Tezcatlipoca shared dominion over humanity with Quetzalcoatl, the god of light and good.
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. According to one epic legend, Quetzalcoatl, deceived by Tezcatlipoca, was driven from Tula, the Toltec capital, and wandered for many years until he reached his homeland, the east coast of Mexico—where he was consumed by divine fire, his ashes turning into birds and his heart becoming the morning star. Another version has him sailing off to a mythical land, leaving behind the promise of his return. Adopting the name, the AztecAztec
, Indian people dominating central Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest. Their language belonged to the Nahuatlan subfamily of Uto-Aztecan languages. They arrived in the Valley of Mexico from the north toward the end of the 12th cent.
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 linked it with the worship of the war god Huitzilopotchtli and applied it to some of their ranking priests. MontezumaMontezuma
or Moctezuma
, 1480?–1520, Aztec emperor (c.1502–1520). He is sometimes called Montezuma II to distinguish him from Montezuma I (ruled 1440–69), who carried on conquests around Tenochtitlán.
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 viewed the Spanish invaders as the returning hosts of Quetzalcoatl. There is a great pyramid in honor of the deity at CholulaCholula
or Cholula de Rivadabia
, city (1990 pop. 53,673), Puebla state, E central Mexico. The site of the famous Teocali de Cholula, a pre-Columbian pyramid of great antiquity, the city was an old Toltec center and, when the Spanish came, was an Aztec sacred
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, and the sky-serpent motif in the mosaics at Mitla probably represents Quetzalcoatl. The famous Temple of Quetzalcoatl at TeotihuacánTeotihuacán
, ancient commercial and religious center in the central valley of Mexico, c.30 mi (48 km) NE of Mexico City. Once thought to be the great religious center of the Toltec, it is now held to be the relic of an earlier civilization.
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 is now regarded by some authorities as having been consecrated to a different god.

The figure who gave rise to the legendary Quetzalcoatl may have been an ancestor of his Maya counterpart, Kulkulcán. The Toltec of Tula moved southward, settled in SW Campeche, and in the 10th cent. under the leadership of Kulkulcán, a historical figure, occupied Chichén ItzáChichén Itzá
, city of the ancient Maya, central Yucatán, Mexico. It was founded around two large cenotes, or natural wells. According to one system of dating, it was founded c.
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. Although probably assimilated into the MayaMaya
, indigenous people of S Mexico and Central America, occupying an area comprising the Yucatán peninsula and much of the present state of Chiapas in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, parts of El Salvador, and extreme western Honduras.
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 culture by this time, the invaders still employed Mexican architectural motifs (especially the feathered serpent) extensively. After the death of Kulkulcán he became the patron deity of Chichén Itzá, and most of the temples were dedicated to him. The symbol for both Quetzalcoatl and Kulkulcán, the serpent with quetzalquetzal
or quezal
, common name for a magnificent bird of the family Trogonidae (trogon family), found in the rain forests from S Mexico to Costa Rica at altitudes of up to 9,000 ft (2,745 m).
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 feathers, has an obvious connection with serpent worship.


See L. Séjourné, Burning Water (tr. 1957).


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Quetzalcoatl, asteroid 1,915 (the 1,915th asteroid to be discovered, on March 9, 1953), is approximately .4 kilometer in diameter and has an orbital period of 4 years. Quetzalcoatl was named after a god who was simultaneously a creator and a millennialist figure in Aztec mythology and for whom Cortez was mistaken. J. Lee Lehman views this asteroid as a blend of Mars and Sun characteristics, a “Hero-God: more active than the Sun, more creative than Mars.”


Kowal, Charles T. Asteroids: Their Nature and Utilization. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Ellis Horwood Limited, 1988.
Lehman, J. Lee. The Ultimate Asteroid Book. West Chester, PA: Whitford Press, 1988.
Schwartz, Jacob. Asteroid Name Encyclopedia. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1995.


god of the Toltecs. [Toltec Religion: NCE, 2258]
See: God
References in periodicals archive ?
Sacerdote ofrece el corazon a Quetzacoatl y Huitzilopochtli.
Canton produced, wrote and directed the 1996 docu "Quetzacoatl" about the artist Jose Clemente Orozco.
Pero este libro no es un mero recuento de la historia de la devocion, ni un comentario sobre la relacion entre la devocion y el nacionalismo mexicano, que ha sido el tema de otras obras, como la de Jacques Lafaye, Quetzacoatl y Guadalupe, aparecida en 1985.
On the other, it yields an Acosta always the writer semblable who sees his own silhouette in the Aztec warrior founder god Huitzilopochtli (p 11), speaks of himself as "Vato Numero Uno" (p13) and "singer of songs" (p 207), uses the court to give a parable history of Chicanismo with due allusion to Quetzacoatl, Moctezuma, Cortes and la Malinche through to 1848 and the "Anglo" appropriation of the southwest and its latterday aftermath, casts himself as first person and yet, alterity itself, third person participant in the Chicano Militant bombing of a Safeway store and Bank of America branch, and envisions himself as the carnal (brother/dude) edging into madness at the spies and fifth columnists, the delusions and betrayals, within Chicano activism.
(29) En la Histoire du Mechique (30) se relata que Quetzacoatl, al ser perseguido por Tezcatlipoca, se suicida y, segun las distintas versiones de la muerte de Maxtla, algunas senalan que este igualmente se quita la vida.
Asi, consideramos que el llanto se enmarca y explica contextos de cierre de una etapa o ciclo, y por ello, no es casual que a estas tres figuras, Quetzacoatl, Huemac y Maxtla, se les describa llorando en la culminacion de su ciclo.31 A su vez, estas tres figuras tambien estan asociadas al juego de pelota, (32) y por ello compartimos la idea de Olivier sobre la representacion de aquel como la manifestacion de la alternancia del poder.
GRAULICH, Michel, Quetzacoatl y el espejismo de Tollan, Instituut Loor Amerikanistiek, v.z.w., Belgium, 1988.
KIRCHHOFF, Paul, "Quetzacoatl, Huemac y el fin de Tula", Cuadernos Americanos, Mexico, ano XIV, n.
"De hecho --insiste Riviale--, la coleccion de Boban fue la espina dorsal del flamante museo, y la Calavera de Cristal, junto con la mascara de Xipe Totec y una esplendida estatua de Quetzacoatl fueron sus piezas estelares."
Esa Calavera de Cristal es la que se exhibe actualmente en el museo del Quai Branly, mientras que Xipe Topec y Quetzacoatl se encuentran muy bien expuestos en un nuevo espacio del Museo del Louvre.
Sahagun, en su relato acerca de la huida de Quetzacoatl de Tula rumbo al Tlillan Tlapallan, menciona que uno de los lugares por donde paso este controvertido personaje, tomo el nombre de Temacpalco: