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Quetzalcoatl (Classical Nahuatl: Quetzalcōhuātl pronounced [ke.ʦal.ˈkoː.waːtɬ]) is a benevolent and mythical deity, creator of humanity in the Toltec tradition, predating the Mexica (Aztecs) god. The name is a combination of quetzal, a brightly colored Mesoamerican bird, and coatl, meaning serpent. He is woven into a mythical prince Topiltzin of Tula, who left that kingdom to found Chichen Itza, according to legend.
Due to their cyclical view of time and the tendency of leaders to revise histories to support their rule, many events and attributes attributed to Quetzalcoatl are exceedingly difficult to separate from the political leaders that took this name on themselves.1 Quetzalcoatl is often referred to as The Feathered Serpent and was inseparable from the planet Venus. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge.2 Today Quetzalcoatl is arguably the best known deity. However, Quetzalcoatl was one of several important gods in the Aztec pantheon along with the gods Tlaloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli.
Several other Mesoamerican cultures are known to have worshipped a feathered serpent god: At Teotihuacan the several monumental structures are adorned with images of a feathered serpent (Notably the so-called “Citadel and Temple of Quetzalcoatl”3). Such imagery is also prominent at such sites as Chichen Itza and Tula. This has led scholars to conclude that the deity called Quetzalcoatl in the Nahuatl language was among the most important deities of Mesoamerica.4
The god Quetzalcoatl was sometimes conflated with Topiltzin Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl, a semi-legendary 10th century Toltec ruler.