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The Legend of Quetzalcoatl

Updated on March 10, 2017


The name "Quetzalcoatl" is composed of two words of "Nahuatl" origin: "quetzal", which is a bird of beautiful plumage that inhabits the Central American jungle, and "cóatl", which means "snake."

He is identified with at least one historical personage, namely: "Ce Ácatl Topiltzin", king of "Tula", who lived between years 895 and 947 of the Christian era.

The appearance in Mesoamerica and specifically in the “Anahuac” of this tall, blond, white, bearded man of deep culture has given way to the creation of several myths and legends that the anthropologists, scientists and foreign explorers have interwoven a tangle every time More difficult to untangle. In “Tlahuica” mythology, a story is embroidered about “Quetzalcoatl”, for it’s said in the ancient codices that “Quetzalcoatl” was the son of a virgin woman named “Chimalma” and King- God “Mixtocoatl”, monarch of “Tollán”. Shamed for having given birth without marriage, “Chimalma” put the child in a basket and threw it into the river. And that an elderly man raised and educated him, having become a wise and learned man who, upon returning to “Tollan”, took over the government.

Sculpture of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan.
Sculpture of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan.

Although never came to know it’s nationality and it’s origin. It’s said that having drunk the soft “neutle” got drunk and committed embarrassing acts after which he decided to leave forever taking the course of the Gulf of Mexico or Sea of ​​the Turquoise.

Archaeological ruins of Quetzalcoatl between the Toltecs and Mayas

It’s said that the “Toltecas”, “Nahoas” and “Mayas” deified and placed their symbol in all palaces, monuments and temples of the “Maya” and Mesoamerica area where it can still be seen, in memory and veneration of this wise man, according to the “Mayan” tradition, To the pantheon and became the star Venus, which is also thus identified by fanciful archaeologists.

The Temple of "Kukulcan" in the archaeological zone of "Chichen Itza".
The Temple of "Kukulcan" in the archaeological zone of "Chichen Itza".

Prophecy of the return of Quetzalcoatl

One of the representations of this deity was the one of a bearded man, reason why during the conquest of New Spain some towns identified Hernán Cortes with Quetzalcóatl. Popularly it is believed that the Mexicas took Quetzalcoatl to Hernán Cortés, this affirmation is born from the first Letters of Relation that Cortes prepared to be given to the Spanish king Carlos V. These are considered a legal strategy, since the conquest of lands could only be Approved by the king in accordance with Spanish law.

Encounter between Moctezuma and Cortés.
Encounter between Moctezuma and Cortés.


There is no evidence to say that Quetzalcoatl was a white man, who lived among the Toltecs, whose belief the Mexicas adopted, which the Spaniards diversified. That is not enough to disprove a story, however is not enough to prove it. And in reviewing how beliefs were adopted, some doctrines lose a lot of weight.

© 2017 Guillermo Perez Guillen


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