Mexica Culture (Aztec), Central Plateau, Mexico
Late Postclassic (1350 - 1521 A.D.)
Stone. Cm. 53 x 24 x 25
The monolith of red stone, from which the object has been obtained, has been carefully carved and polished. It represents the god Quetzalcóatl, "Feathered Serpent", in his animal manifestation. The artist has rendered with great realism the typical parts of the reptile's body: the head with small round eyes and dilated nostrils, the mouth with its forked tongue, the tail with the rattle visible at its end. The feathers on relief that cover the body of the serpent identify it as Quetzalcóatl, the "Plumed Serpent".
Quetzalcóatl was a deity already present among the leading Mesoamerican figures even before the appearance of the Mexica culture (known as Aztecs in Western historiography). In fact, even during the Classic Period (250-900 AD), his presence is attested to Teotihuacan, the hegemonic city of the Central Plateau. The cult of the "Feathered Serpent" was adopted by the Mexica as a form of legitimation of their power in the Valley of Mexico. Under the Mexica rule, Quetzalcóatl was one of the most important deities in the pantheon: he was considered one of the creating entities; he created the human beings of the fifth era; he was regarded as the inventor of agriculture and crafts; he was associated with the priestly caste and religious ceremonies. His predominant aspect is that of civilizing hero and holder of the political power of the Toltec civilization. In Mexica religion, Quetzalcóatl was opposed to a mythical antagonist, Tezcatlipoca, "Smoking Mirror", god of the night with multiple shapes, who represented his dualistic counterpart. Quetzalcóatl also had other manifestations, such Ehécatl, the god of wind, and Tlahuizcatlpantecuhtli, the Lord of the Dawn: Venus. In Maya tradition Quetzalcóatl was known as Kukulkan.