Aztec Gods and Goddesses: Quetzalcoatl Facts

Here are some facts about Quetzalcoatl.

  • Quetzalcoatl was one of the most important gods of the Aztecs and other peoples of Central America. His name means feathered serpent and he has been worshipped since 100 BC.

  • He is shown sometimes as a serpent and sometimes as a dark man with a red beak. He is often shown holding a shield and wearing a beautiful plumed headdress.
  • He was the god of learning, education and the priesthood. He was also related to the gods of arts and crafts, the wind, the dawn and the planet Venus.
  • Quetzalcoatl was sometimes seen as a symbol of death, and was said to have invented the calendar and books.
  • Others believed that he was responsible for giving corn to mankind.
  • Stories vary as to how and when Quetzalcoatl was born and who his parents were. One story says that he was the son of the Aztec goddess Coatlicue, who had over 400 children.
  • Quetzalcoatl may have been based partly on a real historical figure, a leader of the 8th century Toltec empire. He supposedly fled from the city of Tula, promising to return but never did.
  • The Aztecs believed that Quetzalcoatl marked the boundary between the Earth and the sky. He also helped to create mankind, as he was one of the creator gods.
  • The Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II may have believed that the explorer Cortes was Quetzalcoatl when he landed in the New World in 1519. Cortes was largely responsible for the downfall of the Aztec empire.
  • He was sometimes also described as a white god with a beard. Some people believe that Quetzalcoatl was Christ, returning to earth as promised.
  • Temples dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl have been found all across Central America. One of the most well-known is at Chichen Itza with its 30 metre high stone pyramid.