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Head of Quetzalcóatl, Feathered Serpent

Head of Quetzalcóatl, Feathered Serpent, sculpture in the Louvre Museum

Head of Quetzalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent, Mexica, c. 1140-1521, green porphyry (igneous rock), height 44 cms., Musée du Louvre, Paris.

This delicately carved and polished figure is a literal translation in sculpture of the name of the best-known deity, ruler, and culture hero in all of Postclassic Mesoamerica. The artistic canon [custom] of having the head of the deity in the mouth of the serpent is a common one, but the anthropomorphic portrayal [giving human characteristics] of the hands and feet is relatively rare. The ear ornaments in the hooked form of a section of conch shell (‘epcolloli’) are one of the unmistakable attributes of Quetzalcóatl.
(From Before Cortés: Sculpture of Middle America, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970, p. 302.)

Photo by and courtesy Katarzyna Mikulska.

Did the Aztec Tlatoani possess supernatural or divine powers?