General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Coiled Fire Serpent

Coiled Mexica fire serpent (‘xiuhcóatl’)

Coiled fire serpent (xiuhcóatl), 1507, Mexica (Aztec), quartz diorite, 45.5 cms high, Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington DC (USA).

This coiled snake represents a ‘xiuhcoatl’, or fire serpent, a mythical creature whose Nahuatl name translates as ‘turquoise snake’. Turquoise was a symbolic and highly valued material... The Nahuatl word for turquoise, ‘xihuitl’, also means ‘fire’ and ‘year’. Turquoise was associated with fire, time, the calendar and celestial bodies, but it also exemplified the power of rulers and political succession. Fire serpents were related to several Mexica gods including Huitzilopochtli... and Xiuhtecuhtli...
The head of this coiled serpent is damaged. The entire snout is missing although three sets of curved fangs remain; a bifurcated tongue or symbolic sacrificial knife might once have protruded from its mouth...

From Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler, British Museum Catalogue, 2009, p. 174.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

See the Aztec fire serpent in the British Museum...