What Does Quetzalcoatl Mean in World History?

Quetzalcoatl is a legendary figure in Mesoamerican history. The name Quetzalcoatl means “feathered serpent” in the Nahuatl language, which was spoken by the Aztecs and other indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America. The story of Quetzalcoatl has had a significant impact on world history, inspiring art, literature, and religion for centuries.

Origins of Quetzalcoatl

According to legend, Quetzalcoatl was born to a virgin named Chimalman, who was impregnated by a feather that fell from the sky. He was depicted as a tall and fair-skinned man with long hair and a beard.

He carried a staff and wore a cloak made of feathers. Quetzalcoatl was believed to have been an important figure in Aztec mythology before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

Quetzalcoatl in Aztec Religion

In Aztec religion, Quetzalcoatl was considered one of the most important gods. He was believed to be responsible for creating humans and teaching them various skills such as agriculture, pottery, and metallurgy. Quetzalcoatl was also associated with the planet Venus, which was considered an important celestial body by Mesoamerican cultures.

The Legend of Quetzalcoatl

The legend of Quetzalcoatl tells the story of his exile from Mexico after being tricked by his rival Tezcatlipoca. According to legend, he left behind his followers and promised to return one day to reclaim his throne.

This idea became known as “the return of Quetzalcoatl” or “the fifth sun.” It inspired many artists and writers throughout history.

Influence on Mexican Culture

The story of Quetzalcoatl has had a significant impact on Mexican culture. The feathered serpent has been depicted in art and literature as a symbol of Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage. The legend of Quetzalcoatl also influenced the development of the Mexican flag, which features an eagle holding a snake in its beak.

Quetzalcoatl in World Religion

The story of Quetzalcoatl has also had an impact on world religion. Some scholars believe that the legend of Quetzalcoatl influenced the development of Christianity in Mexico. According to this theory, the story of Quetzalcoatl’s exile and promised return may have been incorporated into the Christian idea of the Second Coming.


In conclusion, Quetzalcoatl is an important figure in Mesoamerican history. His story has inspired artists, writers, and religious thinkers for centuries.

The legend of Quetzalcoatl continues to influence Mexican culture and has even had an impact on world religion. By understanding this fascinating figure, we can gain insight into the rich history and culture of Mexico and Central America.